The boss who sacked Karen Reissmann and then went on holiday has tried to intimidate the striking health workers.
But the bully-boy move backfired for Manchester Mental Health Trust chief executive Sheila Foley, who returned from Dubai only on Tuesday.
Sun-tanned Shelia, who is paid £135,000 a year, issued an hysterical statement to the press threatening to report the 150 striking nurses to their professional bodies for misconduct.
It was a clear attempt to try and frighten and intimidate the striking nurses back to work.
Bully-boy Mrs Foley had already made the threat once before in a letter to Karen’s colleagues when they began their solidarity strike.
But while she was house-hunting in Dubai the strikers had contacted their professional bodies, including the Nursing and Midwifery Council, to find out if Mrs Foley could carry out her threat. The nurses were told very clearly that they had the right to strike and it was their management’s responsibility to organise cover.
A complaint could only be made against a striking nurse to the Council if the nurse had done something specific to affect a specific patient. A general complaint would be laughed out of court.
Yesterday – 24 hours after making a shrill second threat – bully boy Ms Foley was forced to backdown and withdraw her ultimatum at a meeting with regional officials from the nurses’ union UNISON.
She also agreed to bring Karen’s appeal forward a week to December 3.
STRIKING nurses won a huge victory today when they forced Trust boss Sheila Foley to agree to peace talks.
They confronted Mrs Foley as she returned to work from a weeks holiday in Dubai and demanded that she begin immediate talks to settle the strike in support of Karen Reissmann.
And within minutes, Mrs Foley who looked “tanned but strained” according to the Manchester Evening News, emerged from Trust HQ in Manchester to agree to a meeting.
Nurse union reps then submitted a demand that Karen should be immediately reinstated pending her appeal aginst her sacking. In return, the nurses would call off their two-week old stoppage and return to work.
The Trust spent most of the day considering the peace offer from the nurses, but had still not responded by 4 pm or 5.15pm or 9.15pm
The breakthrough came shortly after 7 am this morning when nurses gathered on the picket line to greet Mrs Foley as she arrived back at her desk.
She was handed a letter demanding immediate negotiations – and then re-emerged from the Trust building to agree to meet representatives at 9 am.
After that 30-minute meeting, Karen said:”We are delighted that Mrs Foley has met UNISON reps to discuss how to end this strike as soon as possible.
“It is the first time the Trust have been willing to talk and we are very relieved that we have now been able to get round the table to try to sort out this dispute.
“None of us want to be on strike – we would much rather be back caring for our patients. We hope the Trust will now respond positively and constructively to our proposals.”
The health boss who sacked Karen Reissmann and started an all-out strike by 180 staff has jetted off on holiday to Dubai.
Sheila Foley, £100,000-a-year chief executive of the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust, flew out as staff gathered around braziers on picket lines outside the Trust’s headquarters.
Before she left for the sun, Ms Foley had sacked UNISON shop steward Karen Reissmann for speaking out against cuts and privatisation.
A spokesperson for the ‘Reinstate Karen Reissmann’ campaign said: “Ms Foley should call off her holiday immediately and return to Britain to settle the strike she started by giving Karen her job back.
“While Karen is left out in the cold with 180 colleagues, leaving dozens of patients anxious and fearful, Ms Foley disappears off to the sunshine without a ‘by your leave’! It’s an utter disgrace.
“No wonder Karen felt she had to speak out if this is the kind of uncaring and irresponsible management in charge of mental health services to some of the most vulnerable people.”
The Manchester Evening News carried the story of Ms Foley’s disappearance to Dubai on their front page today under the headline: ’STRIKE ROW BOSS IN DESERT STORM’. You can read it here.