Following the suspension of the marking boycotts originally scheduled to take place last term in protest to significant pension changes, UCU members have reportedly been threatened with legal action. Emails were allegedly sent out to staff members supporting the boycott, whereby the University threatened to attach personal liability for legal action to any member of staff who went on strike, in the event of a student suing the University for poor academic performance.
The threat has yet to be rescinded, leading to discussions in University Court on Saturday Week 4. President of Lancaster UCU Rory Daly invited Vice Chancellor Mark Smith to consider retracting this threat; Smith agreed to discuss the issue of whether the threat should be formally withdrawn with senior management, although he confirmed that the legal threat would have been enacted if the industrial action had continued.
Vicky Tyrell, of the Lancaster University Press Office, responded in a statement reporting discussions between Lancaster UCU and University management as being “constructive and focused on identifying areas [to influence] current pension reforms being proposed”. With regards to the recent legal threat, Tyrell stressed that the University “reserved the right to adjoin [staff] to any student claims if the situation over time required”, as was pointed out to staff members. Tyrell acknowledges recent national developments which include USS reforms being proposed in joint agreement of UCU and employers, reporting that the University is “currently in discussions with Lancaster UCU in relation to the relevance of these comments given the current context”. Discussions continue.