Cleaners, care workers and maintenance workers will walk out this week in what their trade union, United Voices of the World (UVW), has described as a “second wave” of strike action at Sage Nursing Home in Golders Green North London.
The strikes, which will take place from the 4th to the 8th of February, will see the key workers repeat their demands for a £12 per hour living wage, and parity in sick pay and annual leave with NHS rates. Demands which UVW officials have described as “hugely significant demands, which are planting the seeds for much needed change in the care sector”.
The latest round of strike action comes just 3 weeks after the first, which saw workers host a virtual picket, which was attended by over 400 attendees consisting of trade union members, officials, care workers and Members of Parliament, all of whom expressed support for the workers’ demands and which was followed up by a lively physical picket outside the care home that same weekend.
UVW officials have stated the dispute is not only about pay and terms and conditions, but also about the refusal of Sage’s trustees to willingly recognise the union and to adequately deal with grievances relating to discrimination, victimisation and health and safety concerns. The workers’ recent victory at the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), the government body which regulates and rules on applications for trade union recognition, saw the CAC rule in favour of the workers’ proposed bargaining unit. Meaning the workers are one step closer to achieving recognition.
The CAC ruling, coupled with the promise of further strike action, has seen Sage’s trustees begin to buckle, agreeing for the first time to attend a meeting with the workers to hear the unaddressed grievances.
Speaking about being one step closer to winning trade union recognition and the pending meeting with Sage’s trustees on the eve of the strike action, Andrene, a care worker with 17 years of service to Sage, said the following:
“The processes at Sage no longer work, our legitimate grievances as the healthcare professionals must be heard, this meeting alongside the CAC decision means we are a step closer to achieving one of our key demands, a collective voice at work”.
Bile, another care worker and strike leader at Sage also said the following:
“We now have a chance to bring all the problems we and the residents have been facing at Sage to fore and face to face, and it will be up to the Trustees if they want to be accountable to them.”
Molly de Dios Fisher, a UVW organiser, also said the following:
“Despite the arrogant tone in their letter offering a meeting to hear the workers’ concerns, we are hopeful Sage’s trustees will see sense and start fixing the problems at the home. The majority of care workers in the private sector earn below the real living wage, and London along with the North of England is the worst place for underpayment. So all eyes are on this dispute. Care workers and their unions know that a win for the Sage Nursing Home workers could be the catalyst needed for a sea change across the sector”.
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