NHS Trust sets date for Reissmann disciplinary hearing

Demonstration in support of Karen Reissman, September 9th 2007

Talks between UNISON and Manchester’s mental health trust broke down on Monday (Oct 1st) when the Trust announced they will hold a disciplinary hearing for Karen Reissmann, a trade union activist, in 2 weeks time.

Striking nurses lobbied their board last Thursday and were told their trust had “made approaches to Unison Regional Centre regarding ways of halting the industrial action”. When they met yesterday (Monday) UNISON regional officers were merely informed that the trust was to convene a disciplinary hearing for Karen the week beginning 15th October.

Steve Stott, UNISON NW Regional manager said “The Trust have confirmed their intention to bring disciplinary charges against Karen Reissmann. UNISON believes the process is flawed but that in any event Karen will be able to answer any allegations that are put to her. UNISON will continue to provide Karen with our full support.”

Strikes will therefore continue, probably to coincide with the disciplinary hearing in the week beginning 15th October. We thank all our supporters for the fantastic support they have given us so far.

Karen has been suspended from work for 16 weeks, facing possible dismissal on charges - all of which relate to her trade union activity and her speaking out against government policies and local cuts.

700 UNISON members have taken 8 days strike to demand Karen’ reinstatement (see previous libcom coverage here and here). The strike covers 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.

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.

Karen has worked as a psychiatric nurse in Manchester for 25 years and on the day she was suspended, she was also promoted. It is a battle that trade unionists are rallying around to defend the right to speak out against cuts and privatisation of public services, without fear of being sacked.

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.

Donations
Donations to the hardship fund have become ever more crucial. Cheques gratefully received to “Manchester Community and mental health UNISON” c/o trade union office, Chorlton House, 70 Manchester Rd, Manchester M21 9UN.

For more information contact
Steve Stott, UNISON regional manager 0161 211 1000
Andy Gill UNISON regional officer 0161 211 1000 or
Karen Reissmann, branch chair 07972 120 451