A group of mainly migrant workers at a north London care home are fighting for higher pay.
The union held an online rally the night before the walkout with strikers and local activists.
Noemi, a laundry worker at Sage, told the rally that workers decided to strike “because management doesn’t listen to them”.
Care worker Julia said, “We are looking after vulnerable people, people have lots of different needs.
“But I don’t think we are valued.”
Noemi and Julia both told the rally that the work at Sage often feels dehumanising. “They make you feel like you are not a person,” said Julia. “You work for very little money, but it’s almost like you are made to feel like you should be thankful.”
Noemi pointed out that workers have been “risking their lives” in the pandemic.
One UVW organiser said that, at one point, workers were forced to make PPE protective kit with whatever they could find.
One worker spoke about how she was placed on night shifts for three days in a row—despite telling management she was pregnant.
Sage worker Bella described how workers first began to organise. She said that when she started working at the care home she was “surprised by the things that happened there”. “I was always complaining and always fighting,” she said.
“I was angry, but I was also on my own.
“Then I began to speak with my colleagues. And we started talking and wondering what we could do.”
Bella added that she then persuaded a number of her colleagues to join the UVW union and told them they should go on strike. “I always said we need to go on strike,” she said. “I was fed up with many things. I said we need to put a stop to this.”
Over 130 supporters of the strike took part in a virtual picket line on Friday morning.
Workers had planned to take part in a physical picket, but where concerned about being in breach of new lockdown legislation that makes picketing illegal.
But strikers have vowed to mount a physical picket line as soon as possible.
Biles, another worker at Sage said, “Today is our day—we won't stop until we get better sick pay and the recognition of our union.”
And Bella added, “Our name is going to stay in the minds of the bosses at Sage, because we are going to win.”