The £10,000 fine handed to a 61-year-old health worker for protesting NHS pay rates is being reviewed, Greater Manchester Police have confirmed.
Local Mayor Andy Burnham has asked the force to perform an “additional review process” of the five-figure Fixed Penalty Notice issued to Karen Reissmann for organising a 40-person protest in St Peter’s Square on Sunday (March 7).
Reissmann had helped arrange the mass gathering to campaign against the government’s proposed 1% pay rise for nurses – which she called “insulting“.
Under current coronavirus legislation, maximum penalties of £10,000 can be issued to anyone who organises gatherings of over 30 people.
Reissmann was accused of showing “a degree of non-compliance” when officers aimed to disperse her protest group, with police claiming it “necessary” to issue her with a fine.
The decision is now currently being reviewed.
A GMP spokesperson stated: “The FPN given last weekend is currently undergoing an additional review process following a request from the Mayor to do so.
“All of our £10k FPNs are reviewed before processing so as well as this initial review we will review both the command decisions to ensure they were proportionate and commensurate with our strategy and previous operations, in addition we have asked for this to be reviewed by our legal department and provide a response back to the Mayor as to whether this was an appropriate course of action by GMP.”
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help Reissmann pay her fine – with over £17,000 donated so far.
The fundraiser page, supported by actress Maxine Peake and over 900 others, said that extra donations would be passed on to a mental health charity.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the pay increase this week, claiming the government was giving “as much as we can” during the tough conditions of the pandemic.
But The Royal College of Nursing (RCB) has repeatedly called on the government to reverse their decision and “give nursing what it deserves”.
The organisation has claimed a 1% pay rise would only amount to an extra £3.50 a week in take home pay, and a petition has been posted online calling for a much higher boost of 12.5%.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, the RCN said that nursing staff’s wages does “not reflect the essential work they do” in “highly skilled, complex, responsible roles”.
“Many are now worse off than they were 10 years ago and are considering leaving the profession,” reads the statement.
“Fair pay for nursing is about making sure that a safety-critical profession can reach safe staffing levels, to provide safe and effective care for all people of the United Kingdom.”
UK union UNISON is one of several groups campaigning for a show of solidarity for health workers tonight – with people urged to head to their doors and balconies for a ‘slow hand clap‘ on Thursday 11 March.
The display aims to put a sardonic spin on the ‘clap for carers’ campaign – which saw Brits applaud essential staff for their work during the pandemic.
There is also a plan for the slow handclap to be repeated on April 1 – the date NHS staff were due for a wage increase.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Times may be tough but this deal is below-inflation and derisory.
“It’s like the worst of austerity is back.”