North London care workers prepare to strike

Sage Nursing Home
Image from Sage Nursing Home’s website

Trades union United Voices of the World (UVW) members at Sage Nursing Home, a Jewish care home in Northwest London, are striking for three days starting next Wednesday 20 October, claiming the home is short-staffed, mismanaged and that bullying, favouritism and blame culture is rife.

The UVW workers are demanding:

• A minimum hourly wage of £12, to be reviewed on a yearly basis and increased in-line with RPI inflation levels
• A 15% enhancement for Saturday shifts and a 20% enhancement for night shifts and Sunday shifts
• A paid one-hour break during the night shift.
• An occupational sick pay scheme in line with the NHS
• Annual leave entitlement in line with the NHS
• Fair and transparent policies with regards to shift allocation
• Remuneration for staff carrying out the additional work of absent colleagues at the rate the absent colleague would have received
• The address of concerns around staffing levels among domestic staff.

Bile, a senior care worker at Sage and member of UVW’s executive committee, said: “We built a high-profile campaign, supported by care workers around the UK, that led to strike action at the start of the year in the harshest of conditions during a global pandemic lockdown.

“Yet Sage Nursing trustees not only failed to keep their word but they also continue to preside over a workplace that is short-staffed, mismanaged and where bullying, favouritism, and a blame culture is rife. They have tried every trick in the book to break us but our resolve is stronger than ever.”

Noemi, a domestic worker in the nursing home laundry room, added: “During these difficult times, while everyone was under lockdown, we continued to wash, clean, and look after the elderly with dedication, joy and compassion. All key workers deserve to earn a living wage, not the measly poverty pay we are on at the moment of £8.91 we receive as a minimum or £9.60 per hour some receive as a maximum. I work six days a week, we haven’t received a pay raise for eight years. Instead, the trustees chose to reward us with empty promises and unfair treatment.”

A UVW spokesperson said: “The response from the trustees is most regrettable. The trustees have it within their means to meet our members’ request. It is simply astounding that Mr Freshwater, as a trustee of Mayfair Charities, constitutionally committed to ‘the relief of poverty’, is not cognisant that the employees of his nursing home live on or even below the poverty line in some cases. It’s high time the trustees take a closer look at the workplace culture and practice for their employees and residents to ensure there is dignity in care for all employees and residents.”

Sage Nursing Home responded to HealthInvestor UK’s request for a comment by stating that UVW had lost a ballot conducted with Sage’s workforce for the right to represent them for collective bargaining. It added that Sage was not-for-profit and currently running at a loss and below full occupancy, but would consider reviewing pay levels and rates should the charity’s financial position improve.

Date published: October 15, 2021

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