Sage care home workers in Golders Green, north London, staged lively picket lines on Saturday.
Despite Tory restrictions on the right to protest, workers still managed to create an atmosphere on the quiet street in north London. Organisers said that this was their biggest picket yet.
Care worker Bile told Socialist Worker that problems really began in 2019 when new management took over the care home. “Now there is a ‘fear factor’ at work,” he said. “And management has tried to create divisions between different groups of workers from different countries.”
“There is lots of discrimination.”
Another striker, Helen, described almost two decades of poverty pay. “I’ve been a care assistant for 19 years,” she told Socialist Worker. “In that time I’ve only received a pay rise of £3. I worked it out and that’s 16p a year.
“This is just awful when the cost of living has just gone up and up.
“London is an expensive city to live in and we need a decent pay rise to live and to be able to pay our bills.”
All the workers pointed out that they’ve put their lives on the line in order to work during a pandemic. “We’ve been treated terribly all through the virus despite being key workers,” striker Helen told Socialist Worker.
“Every single time they needed us at the care home during lockdown—whether we were on or off duty—we were there.
“We’ve watched people die and suffer from coronavirus, which has not been good to see.”
On the pickets, workers held banners that read, “Time for £12,” and, “Don’t cross the picket line.”
When a passerby belittled the strikers for asking for better pay, one worker hit back. “They just expect us to just roll over and take what we’re given,” the worker said. “But we won’t. We will keep fighting.”
The UVW met with management to lay out their demands on Friday. “Management know what we want and what is going on,” Julia told Socialist Worker
“We’ll see what they have to say, but we’ll keep on striking until our demands are met.”
Striker Andrene added that their fight isn’t just about the workers at Sage. “Workers like us, especially migrant workers, are treated as less,” she said. “We joined the union because we want to be treated with respect and dignity.
“And we want to send a message to everyone that you can fight back too.”
And Bile added, “It’s not easy to be on strike, but we are determined to get what we deserve.”
Every trade unionist must get behind the Sage workers’ fight.