Reissmann Unfair Dismissal Tribunal This Monday
Karen Reissmann, the community psychiatric nurse allegedly sacked for speaking out over service cuts and privatisation, will bring a claim of
unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal this Monday (1 September).
Reissmann, who is also a Unison activist, was suspended by Manchester
Mental Health and Social Care Trust in June 2007 and then sacked last
November for gross misconduct. Her suspension and dismissal led to a
series of strikes at the trust and campaigners have taken her case to
parliament. So far 64 MPs have signed an early day motion calling for
Colleagues, service users and union activists will stage a demonstration
in support of Reissmann on the day of the tribunal, which will take
place in Manchester. Unison branch secretary Caroline Bedale said: "We
want NHS trade unionists to be able to speak out when they have concerns
about the impact of the private and voluntary sectors taking over the
provision of health services."
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Sacked Manchester nurse: Employment Tribunal starts on Monday 1st September
Karen Reissmann, sacked union rep and nurse, finally gets to take her case for unfair dismissal to an Employment Tribunal. It starts on Monday 1st September at Tribunal building, Parsonage Gardens, Manchester. The case is expected to last for the full week.
Supporters will assemble at 8. 45am in the Parsonage Gardens, behind Kendals on Deansgate, Manchester, to offer solidarity at the end of a very difficult 18 months for Karen. Colleagues who came out on strike in support of her, users of mental health services in Manchester, other trade unionists and concerned members of the public continue to offer her their full support. They want to be there for her at the start of a difficult day.
Karen was suspended on June 15th 2007 and sacked on November 5th 2007.
She was sacked for speaking out about cuts and privatisation of health services. Karen has always been an active trade unionist who has organised campaigns to defend the NHS.
“Karen’s case raises issues about how the NHS is no longer a national cooperative body. Over the last few years it has become increasingly a myriad of different small Trusts competing for business with other Trusts, charities and private health companies.” said Caroline Bedale, UNISON Manchester Community and Mental Health Branch Secretary.
She continued “NHS trusts are not buying and selling cornflakes. We are providing a public service. We want NHS trade unionists to be able to speak out when they have concerns about the impact of the private and voluntary sectors taking over the provision of health services. We should not be silenced by commercial interests. It is not good for staff, not good for patients and not good for the NHS.”
Sheila Foley, the chief executive who sacked Karen, resigned from the Trust in July this year. This followed an independent report very critical of the Mental Health Trust in Manchester, which was found to be third from bottom nationally in a recent inspection for in-patient services. However Ms Foley is still expected to come and give evidence in the Tribunal.
Last year UNISON’s national Health Service Group Executive said “UNISON will vigorously defend its member’s right to speak out without fear of persecution and we will ensure that Karen will be supported throughout this process and her interests will be positively defended.” UNISON is providing Karen with a barrister for the case.
It is not just UNISON which is backing Karen. “Messages of support for Karen have been flooding in to the branch from all over the country,” reported Caroline Bedale. “We’ve written an open letter to Ivan Lewis, the Minister for Mental Health, calling for a new start to rebuild relationships and confidence across those involved in Manchester’s mental well being, and for Karen’s reinstatement. Hundreds of people have signed this, including the General Secretaries of most of the big trade unions: Keith Norman, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF); Joe Marino, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU); Michael Leahy, Community; Paul Kenny, GMB; Bob Crow, RMT; Mark Serwotka, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS); Brian Caton, Prison Officers Association (POA); Steve Gregg, Fire Brigades Union (FBU) North East Region; Kevin Brown, FBU North West Region. And 64 MPs have now signed an Early Day Motion in support of the right to speak out and for Karen’s reinstatement.”