Supporters of Karen Reissmann, the Manchester nurse who was sacked after speaking out against cuts and privatisation in the NHS, are planning to show their continued backing for her as she takes her former employers to tribunal.
Health workers and trade unionists from across Britain will travel to Manchester on Monday of next week to offer their personal support to Karen as she attempts to prove that her sacking is unjust.
Karen, who has worked in the NHS for 25 years, was suspended then sacked after she was interviewed about the use of voluntary sector firms in the health service for a trade magazine.
Around 800 of Karen's colleagues struck repeatedly in an effort to see her returned to work. Last month the head of the trust that sacked her resigned from her job after a damning report into mental health services in Manchester.
Campaigners are now urging that the trust use this as the basis for a fresh start in which Karen can resume her job as a highly skilled and experienced psychiatric nurse.
Caroline Bedale, secretary of Manchester community and mental health Unison, told Socialist Worker that Karen's case has enormous implications for trade unionists.
'Karen has been sacked for speaking up for the founding principles of the NHS, those who work in it and those who use the services that it provides.
'This is a question of freedom of speech and the right of trade unionists to fight for their members. NHS trusts and other employers will be watching this case carefully to see if it will give them a licence to threaten other union activists into silence.
'As privatisation in the health service continues to gather pace, workers are often told they cannot criticise the terms and conditions of private health firms for 'commercial reasons'.
'We already have some of the most restrictive trade union and employment laws in Europe. We cannot allow Karen's sacking to go unchallenged.'
The Employment Tribunal begins on Monday 1 September, 8.30am till 10am, Parsonage Gardens, Deansgate, Manchester. Send messages of support to [email protected]