Socialist Worker

Ballot to defend Unison activist Karen Reissmann rattles management

by Yuri Prasad
Issue No. 2063

The ballot for strike action to defend leading health union activist Karen Reissmann – who has been suspended from her job as a psychiatric nurse – is tapping into a wider mood of anger at the Manchester mental health trust that employs her.

Occupational therapists based at the Chorlton House site told Socialist Worker that the trust is using the suspension of Karen, who chairs the Unison union branch there, to push through cuts and changes to working practices.

Actions such as these are adding to the numbers voting yes to industrial action. The trust recently came 173rd out 175 in a league table of mental health trusts in Britain.

Union reps at the Manchester community and mental health branch told Socialist Worker that the campaign to win the ballot is going “extremely well” and that many people were sending in their voting papers straight away.

Rattled managers have taken to organising “consultation meetings” with staff at a number of sites, hoping to put “their side of the story”. Over 70 health ­workers packed into one of these meetings in north Manchester to tell management just what they thought of them.

“People were absolutely livid, and the feeling vented at the meeting really shocked the chief executive,” says Val Midson, a nurse at the trust. “It’s clear that they had no idea about how low they are regarded.

“Everyone tells me that they are voting to strike, and that we’ve got to defend Karen.

“On the cuts, on the reorganisation, and on Karen, the feeling is that we are going to fight them all the way.”

Manchester community and mental health Unison branch has called a demonstration in support of Karen on Sunday 9 September in Manchester.

»  Download the union branch’s petition {66KB PDF]

Donations and messages of support to the Manchester community and mental health Unison branch, 70 Manchester Road, Manchester M21 9UN. Email messages of support to

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Wed 8 Aug 2007, 19:58 BST
Issue No. 2063
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