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Ex-Foley-ated! Union bashing NHS boss resigns as staff defeat pay cuts
JOY AND celebration in the offices! This is how one NHS employee described hearing the news that hated boss Sheila Foley had resigned from Manchester's Community and Mental Health Trust on 8 July.
Hugh Caffrey, Manchester
Foley was notorious for implementing cuts, attacking staff while belittling service users, and provoking a strike last year by sacking union rep Karen Reissmann - whose case goes to Tribunal in September.
Foley stepped down for 'personal reasons' as a report highly critical of her management became public. "People are definitely pleased," a worker told me. "We don't know who we'll get next, but the red lines have been drawn. Senior management are only paying lip service to the report.
"Wyn Dignan, chair of the Trust executive board, says 'we' note with regret that Foley's gone, 'we' wholeheartedly take on board the report's recommendations to communicate more with service users... 'we'll' do this and 'we'll' do that. 'We're' already communicating with service users, it's Foley and Co. who weren't interested in communicating properly.
"They're saying the juggernaut will keep on rolling - have they not thought to stop and change direction? Moving towards September we'll keep the union involved with what's happening at the Trust, build the numbers and strength of our shop stewards, and look forward to having Karen back!"
One of Foley's last acts was an attempt to cut staff wages by up to £5,000. A union campaign spearheaded by the shop stewards in the Trust has successfully overturned all changes to pay and grades, with any staff whose pay was cut receiving the full amount back.
A worker explained: "People found out in their June pay packet that they'd been downgraded. Some people were losing £3,000-£5,000 a year. There was no warning, no discussion, no consultation... People with kids and mortgages had no time to financially prepare. We found out that Human Resources [HR] had sent a spreadsheet to Payroll, who when people rang them up about it said 'HR told us to do it'. When we rang HR they said 'Oh! We'll look into it...'
"As part of the Changes in Mind [service reorganisation] negotiation, it was agreed that a year after it was implemented, people would write their job descriptions, send them in and these would go forward for negotiation with the union. [At the same time] pay protection for a number of staff was agreed in case they were moved to Band 6 [down from Band 7] or redeployed."
But this spring the Trust simply implemented the changes, ignoring the agreed procedure, provoking an angry response from workers.
"The union tackled HR, and demanded the solution to immediately regrade people back to Band 7 and reinstate any lost wages. HR said it would take time, it might not be possible before July.
"But so far as I know, people have been regraded back to the band they were on, and all the money is in people's accounts. Now it will go on the agenda for the next NJCC." [National Joint Consultative Committee]
In The Socialist 16 July 2008:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
Workplace news and analysis
The Socialist Comment
Socialist Party review