The campaign to defend nurse and health union activist Karen Reissmann from victimisation by her management was set to make a big leap forward this week.
Karen’s Unison union was in the final stages of authorising a ballot for strike action as Socialist Worker went to press.
The agreed timetable means that workers at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust will commence their two-week ballot period on 24 July and they could be on strike by 20 August.
It is unclear at this stage what type of strike action will be taken.
Karen, who is the chair of the Unison branch at the trust, was suspended from work as a senior psychiatric nurse after she spoke out to the press against handing over parts of the NHS to private companies and “social enterprises”.
All her statements were in line with Unison’s national policy.
The trust has sought to discipline her to gag those who are dare to speak out against privatisation. Trust bosses have hired an “executive coach” to help them investigate Karen.
Unison is organising a public meeting in Manchester the day after the ballot opens as part of its campaign to defend Karen.
And, in a demonstration of how important the case has become, the union has allocated two of its top leaders – Lillian Macer, chair of the health executive, and Karen Jennings, Unison’s head of health – to speak at the meeting.
A battle is now on to secure the biggest possible yes vote in the ballot and show Karen’s bosses the extent to which she is supported by her workmates.
It is also vital that an argument for action that can hit management hard is won throughout the union.
What you can do to support Karen
- Raise the issue in your union branch and ask for a message of support and a financial pledge in the event of a strike taking place.
- Arrange for a message of support to be sent to be read out at the public meeting in Manchester. Trade unionists in the north west of England should send delegations.
- Sign the petition demanding Karen’s reinstatement at » download petition and take it round your workplace.
- Send messages and pledges to the Manchester community and mental health Unison branch office, 70 Manchester Road, Manchester M21 9UN. Email messages of support to email@example.com
Reinstate Karen Reissmann – Wednesday 25 July, Cross St Chapel, Cross Street Manchester city centre