OXFAM staff in Oxford and across the country are waiting to find out if they will lose their jobs.

The Cowley-based charity, founded in 1942, has started consulting with staff in a bid to cut costs by around £16 million annually.

It is expected to cut a third of its 800 posts in Oxford and across the country – at least 200 jobs.

The charity said it had taken a major financial hit during the coronavirus lockdown, partly because it was forced to shut its 600 charity shops.

Read also: School shuts 48 hours after reopening amid coronavirus fears

Oxfam GB chief executive Danny Sriskandarajah said: “These strategic changes are long planned but I am sorry to be adding to the concerns of our dedicated and talented staff during this difficult time.

“The financial reality – not least the ongoing and uncertain impact of Covid – requires us to act now to ensure we live within our means. We will continue to consult fully and fairly with staff and their union representatives in reaching a final decision.”

Oxford Mail:

Oxfam's new charity superstore opened in Cowley in September. Picture: Ed Nix

The job losses will include Oxfam’s headquarters in Oxford, its specialist warehouse in Bicester – which supplies vital equipment such as water tanks – and offices in Scotland, Wales, Manchester, Newcastle and Batley in Yorkshire.

Trade union Unite describe the threat to jobs as 'a tragedy in the fight against global poverty'.

Read also: 'Gang of teenagers stomped on my head while my boys were forced to watch'

Roles will be cut across the whole workforce including those delivering programmes in war-torn countries such as Yemen and fundraisers and campaigners.

Unite said the coronavirus funding crisis was the last straw in a series of ‘poor management decisions’ in recent years, which had been compounded by losses estimated at £5 million a month as more than 600 of Oxfam's charity shops are closed.

The union, which has about 400 members at the charity, has called for a voluntary redundancy programme to be implemented.

Its regional officer Jesika Parmar said: “Without the necessary funding, Oxfam won’t be able to expand its desperately-needed coronavirus work to save thousands of lives across the world.

Also read: Oxfam to start reopening shops in England on June 15

“Unfortunately, despite the ground-breaking work over 70 years that Oxfam has done, our members have lost confidence in senior management. The financial crisis due to Covid-19 has been exacerbated by mismanagement over recent years.

“Oxfam’s directors have refused our requests to open a voluntary redundancy register; to furlough all staff who were made redundant in the last few months, or suspend the redundancy consultation during furlough.

“Oxfam should not be making redundancies while it can still use funding from the job retention scheme (JRS) to pay for 80 per cent of wages.”

Oxford Mail:

The charity said it needed to make changes in order to effectively continue helping those in need.

Mr Sriskandarajah added: “The world is changing fast and Oxfam needs to adapt in a way that builds on our proud history of saving lives and working with communities to help them fight hunger, sickness and injustice.

Read also: A34 at Oxford to partially close for three days this month

"Without urgent action, half a billion people could be forced into poverty by the coronavirus, so this work is more important than ever."

The lockdown hit to Oxfam's income comes less than two years after the charity was boycotted following the Haiti sex scandal.

Oxford Mail:

Many chose to stop giving to the charity in 2018 after staff who were supposed to be helping victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake were accused of using prostitutes, some of whom may have been underage.

In Oxford, Oxfam has five are shops, a warehouse, and its Cowley headquarters.

Reacting to the news of potential redundancies yesterday, Oxford City Council pointed out that all five shops get a 'retail discount' on their business rates, and the warehouse and offices get an 80 per cent discount.

The council also said it would be contacting Oxfam to discuss ways to offer further financial help.