Most members will be familiar with the case of Karen Reissmann, the Manchester nurse and UNISON union activist who was sacked for speaking out in defence of the NHS. Karen and her branch gave us magnificent support during our own dispute and we have done our best to return this.
The specific incident that led to her dismissal was an interview in a specialist health publication where she questioned the decision of her trust to outsource care for some of the most vulnerable patients to a “voluntary sector” organisation. She pointed out that their salaries, pensions etc were worse than in the NHS and that this would make it difficult for them to recruit staff with the skills and experience necessary. Her employer believed that her actions, rather than the underlying issues she was highlighting, brought both organisations into disrepute.
Shortly before Xmas, the trust brought the work back in house after a series of incidents (including a killing) showed that the service provided by the voluntary sector organisation was not safe. Many campaigners believe this vindicates the stand Karen took and show that her employer should have listened to the union’s warnings, rather than victimising Karen for speaking out.
The campaign for Karen’s reinstatement and to defend the rights to free speech for NHS staff and union reps continues. Karen’s hearing at the Employment Tribunal will be for one week from 26th January.
Unfortunately UNISON has decided not to fund Karen’s court case. A solicitor is providing services free of charge, but the campaign is having to raise £19,000 in barrister’s fees to avoid Karen having to foot the bill herself.
If you want to support the campaign you can:
- Make a donation. Cheques to “Karen Reissmann Legal Defence Fund” should be sent to Treasurer, Kathy Crotty, 181 St Mary’s Road, Moston, Manchester, M40 0BN. Online payments can be made to Unity Trust Bank, sort code 08-60-01, account number 20215859.
- Buy a ticket for the fundraising social which is taking place 8pm to late on Friday 23rd January at the Jabez Clegg pub, opposite student union, Oxford Road, Manchester.
- Show your support by attending the pre-tribunal meeting any time between 8:15am and 9:30am on 26th January. This will be taking place on the square at the corner of Bridge Street and St Mary’s Parsonage Manchester city centre.