The rally was told that Trust bosses were “frozen in the headlights” by the publicity surrounding the sacking of Karen and had failed to make any attempt to settle the strike and reinstate her.
UNISON rep, Val Midson (pictured below with Karen) told the rally:” I am absolutely furious that Shelia Foley, who is being paid £135,000 a year as the Trust chief executive, had the nerve to fly off on holiday to Dubai just days after sacking Karen.
“We are now demanding that, while she is away on holiday, the Regional Health Authority immediately step in and start talking to us about ending this dispute. We have serious concerns about the level of care the Trust is now able to provide to our patients.
“But it is easy for them to resolve this dispute – they can reinstate Karen Reissman and let the rest of us get back to work looking after the patients.”
The rally, filmed by the BBC, was repeatedly interrupted by huge rounds of applause after patients, staff and trade unionists from outside the health service, pledged their support for the strike.
The rally was told that the Trust was renting 20 extra beds at a private hospital in Cheadle for the duration of the strike. But the extra beds would be axed when the strike ended – and NHS patients would return to the waiting list.
Karen told the rally: “The Trust have hired private investigators, a private PR firm and now private beds in this dispute. Those beds should be for our patients for the future, not just the next few weeks.
“We have 150 dedicated people out on strike who should be back in work providing care for people. But the chief executive has buggered off on holiday – so we now need to go over her head and say to the Regional Health Authority ‘we want this strike resolved'”.
Supporters were asked to contact local MP’s and councillors and help rally support for a major demonstration which will take place in Manchester on November 24th.