Standoff between Jewish nursing home and its staff, as strike looms
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Standoff between Jewish nursing home and its staff, as strike looms

Co-chair of Sage says it has 'contingency plans to ensure it will cause no major disruption', as trainee rabbi says the situation is cause for 'absolute disgrace and moral outrage'

Nurse holding elderly person's hand
Nurse holding elderly person's hand

There was a standoff between management and some staff at a Jewish nursing home on Golders Green Road this week, as union officials gave notice of a three-day strike next week.

Staff at the Sage Nursing Home, where 21 residents died of coronavirus last year, have been seeking the London Living Wage, without success. Now, months of wrangling are coming to a head, as managers get staff and residents vaccinated against Covid-19.

Adrian Jacobs, co-chair of the home, said the United Voices of the World Union had notified the management of intended strike action scheduled for 15-17 January involving 28 workers out of a total workforce of approximately 100 staff.

“We have full contingency plans ready to ensure that it will cause no major disruption to the safe running of Sage,” he said.

The strike gathered further attention this week after Trainee Rabbi Lev Taylor gave a sermon in Edgware in support of the industrial action, prompting other Reform rabbis to come out in favour of staff, who have borne the brunt of the pandemic.

“Care for the elderly must have been one of the hardest jobs to do this year,” said Taylor. “It should be a cause for absolute disgrace, for moral outrage, that a care home within the Jewish community should be spotlighted for its abhorrent treatment of elderly care workers.”

Lev Taylor

Taylor added that “these domestic and maintenance staff are paid well below the London Living Wage, denied fully paid time off if they are sick, and their grievances have been brushed aside and ignored”.

Last month Sage co-chair Stephen Goldberg said the home “benchmarks its rates of pay against the care home sector and believes it is in line with comparable care homes”.

He added: “Like many in the care sector, Sage is battling with the consequences of Covid19: severe operational challenges, increased costs and the tragic loss of a third of its residents, and hence also a substantial loss of income.

“Against this background, a union has taken this opportunity to target us in a variety of ways and make a series of unrealistic demands which the charity cannot afford and which could, if implemented, lead to the closure of the care home.”

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