700 health workers to strike in defence of their union rep

300 supporters at a meeting in Manchester, August 2007. Photo: Socialist Worker

700 health workers, mainly nurses, will be out on strike again for 3 days Wednesday 31st October, Thursday 1st November and Friday 2nd November.

UNISON members who work for Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust are protesting about the ongoing suspension of their branch chair and national health executive member, Karen Reissmann.

The 12th – 14th days of strike over this issue coincide with Karen’s disciplinary hearing and there will be protests each morning 8am to 11am at Chorlton House where the disciplinary hearing is being held. The decision is expected Friday 2nd November. If Karen is sacked further strike action is expected.

“Save our mental health services” public meeting will be on the first day of strike 12.30pm at Manchester Town Hall to highlight the problems which exist in Manchester’s mental health services.

Last week the family of Billy Scott, a user of mental health services, claimed he died as a result of the withdrawal of his support worker. Services are undergoing many changes which have reduced service to many clients. Speakers include Dr Aneez Esmail, professor of general practise, a user and carer in mental health services and one of the community nurses.

The strike would cover all in patient, hospital and community psychiatric services across the City of Manchester. The majority of UNISON members to strike are nurses, administration workers and occupational therapists.

Karen is a community psychiatric nurse in the Trust as well as a trade union rep who has been suspended for over 19 weeks. The charges against her relate to her trade union activity and her speaking out against government policies and local cuts. She has worked as a nurse in Manchester for 25 years and on the day she was suspended, she was also promoted.

UNISON believes this is an attack on their union and an attempt to prevent Karen from speaking out. Manchester Mental health and Social Care Trust is in crisis. It is officially in turnaround. It has to make over £3million more cuts this year. These are cuts UNISON will vigorously oppose.

User groups are offering their full support and have sent a letter of protest demanding a public inquiry into the Trust to Alan Johnson, the new secretary of state for health.

The ballot, in which 87% voted for the strike, was launched at a massive public meeting of over 300 supporters on 25th July. Karen Jennings, UNISON’s national head of health, Dave Toomer, NUJ national executive member, Alan Hartman, Manchester User Network were among the speakers.

UNISON will vigorously defend its member’s and representative’s right to speak out without fear of persecution.

Please send messages of support and donations to:
Caroline Bedale, Joint Branch Secretary,
UNISON Manchester Community and Mental Health Branch,
Union Office, Chorlton House,
70, Manchester Road, Manchester, M40 7LJ.
(Telephone No. 0161 203 4702).
Cheques to be payable to: “UNISON Manchester Community and Health.”

For more information contact
Andy Gill UNISON regional office, 211 1000
Caroline Bedale, branch secretary, 07931 152 001
or Karen Reissmann, branch chair 07972 120 451

Previous coverage on libcom
Manchester nurses continue strikes in defence of suspended colleague
NHS Trust sets date for Reissmann disciplinary hearing
Manchester mental health staff strike again
Mental health workers on strike in support of colleague