The campaign continues to defend sacked nurse Karen Reissmann and the right to speak out in defence of the NHS – despite the postponement of her employment tribunal.
Over 100 of Karen’s supporters from five different trade unions gathered in Manchester’s Parsonage Gardens on Monday to support her case for full reinstatement.
Her employment tribunal had been scheduled to begin nearby that morning, but shortly beforehand the trust employers won an adjournment.
They also made an offer to Karen, but she proved a tougher nut to crack. She rejected the offer – which included no admission of unfair dismissal or liability by the trust.
Karen said, “We should continue to stand up and defend the right of NHS trade union reps to comment on government policy and its impact on services.
“I want to prove that I was unfairly dismissed. That would protect me and would also be a reminder to all other NHS trusts that they cannot sack trade unionists for speaking out.
“Accepting being sacked would send a message to other health trusts that they can do the same when someone speaks out about local trust policy.”
Karen, a Unison union rep, was sacked in November 2007 for speaking out about cuts and privatisation in Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust. Sheila Foley, the chief executive who sacked Karen, resigned last month.
Karen’s refusal to back away from the fight won support at Monday’s protest.
Alan Hartman from the Manchester Users Network offered the full support of mental health service users and added that at a recent meeting with the trust’s new chief executive he had insisted on Karen’s reinstatement.
Angela Thompson, a Unison member from the Dudley group of hospitals, said, “Karen is standing up for all trade unionists. What has happened to her could happen to any of us who is bold enough to stand up against privatisation and cuts.”
The tribunal is now unlikely to take place before December.
Every trade unionist should continue to raise support for Karen’s reinstatement.