Karen Reissmann, a community nurse with Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust, found out today she has been sacked. This was following a Trust disciplinary hearing where she had been charged with bringing the Trust into disrepute.
What was the crime? Karen is a union activist who has publicly opposed cuts and privatisation. She helped lead a successful campaign earlier this year that forced her employer to reverse staffing cuts that would damaged the care of patients in Manchester.
There were no accusations against Karen’s clinical competence. In fact, she received a letter from her manager telling her she had been promoted on the same day she was suspended. The only accusation concerning her honesty, that she had claimed expenses while not working, was withdrawn during the disciplinary hearing when Karen provided evidence that directly proved the opposite.
What was she found guilty of?
- Firstly that, when she was interviewed in December 2006 criticising the transfer of NHS work to the voluntary sector, she brought the Trust into disrepute.
- Secondly, for telling people that she was suspended and what for.
- Thirdly, for protesting her innocence.
- Fourthly, for allowing the press to print information, some misleading about her case.
Karen was sacked for speaking out.
This is something any union activist could face. It is vital then for us to do everything we can to save Karen’s job.
Karen is a member of Unison’s Health Service Group Executive (their lay National Health Committee). Her union is backing her fully.
Members at her Trust were on strike for nine days during the disciplinary process. From this Thursday, her colleagues will be on an indefinite all out official strike to win her reinstatement.
We all need to do whatever we can to support Unison’s Manchester members. We need to protect our freedom of speech.
- Distribute the leaflet supporting Karen in your workplace.
- Get people to sign the petition supporting Karen.
- Invite a speaker from Manchester to address your meeting (contact the Unison branch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07972 120 451).
- Raise money – the strikers will need it (send to “Manchester Community and Mental Health Branch UNISON” c/o union office, Chorlton House, 70 Manchester Rd, Manchester M21 9UN).
This is one issue where a victory for one will certainly be a victory for all.