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Victimisation of left-wing union activist

category national | worker & community struggles and protests | other press author Friday January 13, 2012 23:37author by Report this post to the editors

Looking for fair play in disciplinary hearings

PATRICIA Campbell worked as a nurse in the Belfast Trust for over 10 years, with a career that spanned a quarter of a century. However, ever since a minor accidental misdemeanour resulted in her dismissal, she has been engaged in an uphill battle to hold her employers to account.

Looking for fair play in disciplinary hearings

By Niall McCracken

PATRICIA Campbell worked as a nurse in the Belfast Trust for over 10 years, with a career that spanned a quarter of a century. However, ever since a minor accidental misdemeanour resulted in her dismissal, she has been engaged in an uphill battle to hold her employers to account.

Her story reveals inconsistencies in the trust’s approach towards staff accused of a disciplinary offence with substantial differences between its treatment of her and its handling of similar and sometime more grave matters.

Patricia’s offence was to leave a small number of documents at the venue of meeting. But she believes she has been victimised for her trade union activity.

Other independent bodies who could have been expected to back the trust in finding her guilty of misconduct instead concluded that she had no case to answer. However the trust pursued its case against Patricia over a period of almost two years and finally sacked her last April.

She has wanted to tell her side of the story since she was first accused, but felt silenced because of her involvement in internal processes. However recent developments have meant she has hit a brick wall in the internal appeal processes and her industrial tribunal hearings have been delayed until later this year.

In telling her story, Patricia reveals that the people who disciplined and ultimately sacked her are the same personalities who were aware of one of the biggest health scandals to hit Northern Ireland in recent times – before it went public: the Lissue and Forster Green Hospitals abuse scandal, revealed by The Irish News last year.

She says the trust has also treated her differently from other members of staff in the Belfast Trust who were the subject of a complaint after sending an e-mail with xenophobic undertones – neither taking direct disciplinary action nor reporting the staff concerned to the regulatory body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

Patricia also believes the trust has shown scant regard for mounting costs of its actions against her on the public purse as well as its own contractual obligations, protocols and internal procedures for dealing with employment disputes.

It has also threatened her with a legal bill of more than £16,000 if she continues to pursue her case.

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