More than 200 Manchester mental health workers have voted for strike action in protest at the suspension of a union activist, Unison said today.
Karen Reissman, a community psychiatric nurse at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, was suspended eight weeks ago after the trust alleged she had brought it into disrepute by her criticism of government policies and local health cuts. Reissman is a member of Unison’s national health executive and chair of her branch.
Unison launched the ballot on 25 July, arguing that Reissman had been “gagged” by the trust.
Today, the union said 87% of members balloted voted in favour of strike action but no dates had yet been decided for action.
“We believe attempts to discipline Karen are an attempt to prevent her from speaking out and to intimidate other stewards from opposing and speaking out against cuts in service. We will vigorously defend our members’ rights to speak out without fear of persecution,” a Unison spokesperson said.
The trust said it was “disappointed” that Unison members had chosen to vote in favour of strike action before the end of the preliminary investigation into the “private employment matter of one individual”.
Sheila Foley, the trust’s chief executive, said: “I know this is a difficult time for our service users and carers and I would like to reassure than that we will continue to provide them with responsive services and we will continue to talk to our staff and their representatives.”