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18.11.2021 / Press releases /

Huge win for pandemic heroes as billionaire trustees capitulate at North London care home

  • Trustees concede in a high profile 17-month dispute that saw 3 rounds of strike action, an occupation of one of the trustee’s offices and garnered UK wide support. 
     
  • UVW members secure huge pay increases for all staff at private care home in North London. 
     
  • Care workers, domestic and maintenance staff will receive London Living wage, resulting in a minimum pay rise of 11% and all other staff a rise of 5%, as of 1st December. 
     
  • UVW members say this is a triumph for all UK care and support workers, but vow to keep up the pressure until all demands are met. 
     

UVW members, care, domestic and maintenance workers at Sage Nursing home have declared a huge victory after a protracted dispute over poverty pay and decent working conditions. 

This week, the board of trustees announced significant pay increases, following an emergency meeting held by bosses in response to strike action that made national news, and an occupation of Freshwater House – the offices of billionaire trustee Benzion Shalom Elizer Freshwater in Central London last month.  
 
Sage Nursing home is a private care home registered as a charity that receives part private and part public funding. The care home is run by trustees, Adrian Jacobs, Stephen Goldberg and Benzion Shalom Elizer Freshwater. 

Bile, senior care worker at Sage and UVW executive committee member, said:

“I would like to express my happiness about winning a pay rise in a long, hard-fought dispute. My gratitude is to my union the United Voices of the World, my colleagues and all our supporters. We went above and beyond to stand for what we deserve. We know that none of us acting alone can achieve success and we understand that there is still a way to go. We need to correct the legacy of past injustice and insist upon the will to change. Let there be work, bread, water, and water for all!”

Julia, care worker at Sage and UVW member, said: 

“We held picket lines in the harshest of conditions, distributed thousands of leaflets to the local community. We made ITV and Sky news; 70 thousand people signed our petitions; members of Parliament signed an early day motion; we marched through Golders Green and occupied Freshwater House in Central London. We delivered this win, but the battle is not over. We are clear we must keep fighting to get what we want and what we – and the residents – deserve.” 
 
Petros Elia, general secretary for UVW, said: 

 “The Trustees chose to ignore these Covid heroes and key workers, some of whom earn as little as £8.91 an hour. Instead, they called their demands unrealistic and called out their legitimate right to strike as self-destructive. They chose to ignore all attempts by UVW to engage in meaningful, good faith negotiations and any attempts to resolve the dispute were met with obfuscation and delaying tactics. 

“But the workers kept together and kept going. This win sends a clear signal to all workers and unions however big or small, to get together, organise, and fight back: collective action does work. This is what Sage Nursing home workers at a small grassroots union have been doing and will keep doing.” 

Ali Treacher, secretary for Care And Support Workers Organise, said
 
“The ripple effects of this win will be felt far beyond North London. The courage of these workers gives hope to all care and support workers everywhere to keep organising and fighting for dignity in care for all, the workers and those who require our support.” 

Notes to editors

The Sage Nursing Home dispute was sparked in March 2020 by one care worker who spoke out about the lack of PPE, poverty wages and appalling working conditions at the height of the pandemic. Read Bella’s story here.

Workers self-organised, joined UVW and built a high-profile campaign, supported by care workers around the UK that led to strike action at the start of the year during lockdown. Their last strike action took place on 20, 21 & 22nd October. Workers surprised bosses by descending on Benzion Shalom Elizer’s offices Freshwater House in Central London where they delivered a letter to the billionaire, in an action likely to have embarrassed the directors. Latest strike action on 20, 21 & 22nd October.

Benzion Shalom Elizer Freshwater is a Trustee of Sage as well as many other charities and was estimated to have a net worth of over £2 billion in 2020. He is also a renowned and generous philanthropist and a Trustee of Mayfair Charities Limited, constitutionally committed to “the relief of poverty”. The employees of Sage earn poverty wages and in some cases, live on or below the poverty line. 

UVW’s campaign page for the dispute. 

For more information email comms@uvwunion.org.uk or call Jim on 07749 765264. 

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