Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/516/3640
The Socialist 17 January 2008 |
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Reinstate Karen Reissman -
Defend mental health services!
Manchester mental health workers on strike, photo Christian Bunke
The fight continues to reverse the sacking of community psychiatric nurse Karen Reissmann, and to oppose further cuts in mental health services.
Hugh Caffrey, Manchester
According to trust bosses, Karen was sacked for 'bringing the Trust into disrepute' but in reality the bosses want to break the union which opposes their cuts.
Sacking Karen provoked weeks of strike action and widespread solidarity protests. Workers returned to work to prepare for the next round of struggle. This is inevitable, given the £3 million cuts management intend to make.
Unison's leadership pledged a 'national campaign'. Further industrial action, backed by solidarity action, is needed. Karen's Unison branch has called for a lobby of mental health minister Ivan Lewis, notorious Blairite MP for Bury South, at the end of January.
Unison should mobilise its strength - the membership and not just the legal department, in support of such actions. If the leadership again proves unwilling to lead, then a direct appeal to workers could gain huge support.
Manchester's Labour councillors kept quiet while health services were decimated across the city last year and a council spokesperson viciously attacked strikers in the press.
A lobbying campaign of individuals has begun, intended to culminate in moving a motion to the full council meeting in late February. The best way to pressurise councillors is by building support among workers in their wards.
Socialist Party members in Baguley-Wythenshawe are doing that as we prepare to stand Lynn Worthington against Trust board member Tony Burns.
Council leader Richard Leese faces re-election in Crumpsall, as do several of his cronies nearby. Street campaigning, and preparing a "save our health service" electoral challenge for May, could challenge New Labour and mobilise more people in support of the health workers' struggle.
Lobby MP Ivan Lewis, Friday 25 January, 5pm at 381 Bury New Rd, Prestwich, M25 1AW.
Next solidarity group meeting, Monday 21 Jan, 6pm, Mechanics Institute, Princess St. Trade unionists and all supporters welcome.
See www.reinstate-karen.org for more info or contact the Socialist Party locally on 07769 611 320.