Care home charity staff to vote on strike action due to cost of living crisis

Union members working for North London care home charity Sage are to vote on strike action due to the cost-of-living crisis.

This could be the second-strike action among members of the United Voices of the World (UVW) union in under two years at the Jewish nursing home, Sidney and Ruza Last Foundation at the Yehoshua Freshwater Centre, which is known as Sage and listed with the Charity Commission as Service to the Aged.

Care, domestic, maintenance and laundry workers at the home are to vote over Christmas on whether to strike in January next year.

They are calling for £14 an hour wages, a sick pay scheme in line with NHS rates, a paid one-hour lunch break and enhanced weekend and night shift rates.

The union says that the 37% pay rise achieved in the previous strike action over “poverty wages and lack of PPE” has been turned in a pay cut due to the cost-of-living crisis.

The OVW says a deadline given to Trustees at the charity to meet their demands “has been extended and still not met”.

“Sage Trustees could easily ensure that strike action was avoided and that a negotiated settlement was reached instead,” said UVW general secretary.

“But their approach to this dispute has left our members with no choice, and despite strike action in the care sector being incredibly rare, our members are determined to fight against deteriorating pay and working conditions due rampant inflation, staff shortages and the effects of the NHS social care crisis.

“I call upon Sage Trustees to sit down and talk with our reps. If they don’t then we will back our members in whatever it takes including an all-out indefinite strike, which we know will be hugely supported across the community and trade union movement.”

Sage worker Lamin Conteh added: “We’d like to be recognised for the job we do. This includes being paid a decent wage, that our employer builds capacity in the workplace and that it takes care of us when we are sick.”

Latest accounts for the charity for the year ending March 2021 show it had an income of £3,232,059, including £187,107 from government grants, and spent £3,102,258.

Sage has been contacted for comment.

This is the latest in a wave of industrial action taking place in the charity sector in recent months over pay.

This week workers at support charity Hestia in Hounslow announced a two-day strike over low pay and workloads.

Also this week hundreds of workers at homelessness charity Shelter started their two week strike over pay.

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