Care workers challenge anti-union harassment

Submitted by AWL on 2 March, 2021 - 6:46 Author: Ollie Moore
Sage care strikers

United Voices of the World (UVW) members at the Sage care home in north London are pursuing two legal claims against their employer. The workers previously struck in January and February to win living wages and parity with NHS workers’ terms and conditions on sick pay and annual leave entitlements.

A UVW statement said: “The first claim is a group claim concerning a letter sent by the home’s trustees during a ballot for industrial action in October 2020... A second individual claim for victimisation is also being brought by a former employee of the home.”

Bella Ruiz, a former care assistant who worked at Sage for just over two years, said: “I filed a complaint about harassment from a nurse, but instead of dealing with my complaint they hired an investigator who interviewed my colleagues to ask them about my behaviour, and if they were members of the union, and if I had forced them into joining the union. What affected me the most was when they said I was ‘subversive’ and should use other means to resolve my concerns”.

“They started sending me letters, calling me into meetings and saying I was putting the lives of the residents at risk. The environment was hostile. I started to suffer from severe headaches, hair loss, anxiety and cried a lot, I was on medical leave several times. I couldn’t cope with the pressure so I decided to resign. But I feel empowered taking this legal action, and I am proud that I have not remained silent and have raised my voice for dignity. We all deserve to have healthy work spaces and bosses who respect the rights of their employees”.

UVW organiser Molly de Dios Fisher said: “After trying and failing to negotiate with their employer for seven months, the workers began to vote for strike action. This prompted Sage’s trustees to send them a letter where our members were told to vote against strike action. It was also suggested a vote in favour could lead to job losses, risk to their employment, and more absurdly, ‘intimidation from the union’.”

UVW members at La Retraite Catholic girls’ school in south west London are due to strike for 40 days from 16 March, in a dispute aimed at winning the payment of withheld wages, a pay increase to the London Living Wage, improve sick pay, and union recognition. Their strike fund is here.

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