Karen Reissmann is one of the best respected trade unionists in the NHS, with 25 years experience as a workplace rep. She’s a good nurse, too. Back in June 2007, she got a promotion in her job as a mental health nurse – a clear recognition of her skills and professionalism.
One problem, though – on the same day she was promoted – senior managers at Manchester Mental Health Trust suspended her for alleged gross misconduct and bringing the Trust into disrepute. She was later sacked.
Karen’s crime? She had fought hard against the cuts and semi-privatisation that were devastating the service she worked for. It’s a disgrace that NHS bosses think its OK to sack someone for defending patient care and defending the NHS. It’s a disgrace that a Labour Government glories in anti-union laws that let bosses behave this way.
Karen now has an Employment Tribunal case coming up, and urgently needs to raise £10,000 to fund it. There’s been a massive campaign in support of Karen. She’s been re-elected to Unison’s National Executive – an indication of the respect that Unison activists have for her. She needs financial solidarity now to make sure that her case wins.
This isn’t just an issue for Unison members. The NHS is under attack on an unprecedented scale. If NHS staff are too frightened to speak out, it will be that much easier for savage cuts and wholesale privatisation to go through unopposed. Karen’s fight is one that must be supported by everyone who cares about defending our NHS.