Shops run by Oxford-based charity Oxfam could close if a strike goes ahead next month.

Nearly 500 Oxfam GB workers are to strike for 17 days throughout December for the first time in the charity’s 81-year history Unite, the UK’s leading union, said.

The union said low paid Oxfam staff, who work across the charity’s shops, offices and Oxford headquarters, are upset that average wages at Oxfam have been cut by 21 per cent in real terms since 2018.

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According to Unite, Oxfam’s last reported cash reserves stood at £44.6m in 2022.

The workers voted by 83 per cent in favour of strike action in a ballot with an 82 per cent turnout.

The vote came after they rejected a pay offer of £1,750 or six per cent, plus a one-off taxed payment of £1,000 for the lowest earners.

Unite claims the charity has repeatedly refused to enter fresh negotiations.

And it says it understands Oxfam is looking at "undermining the strike" by using unpaid volunteers.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Oxfam wants to end poverty and says it is on the side of unions.

"Yet its own workers report having to use foodbanks, it refuses to engage with the only union representing its workforce and it is considering using unpaid labour to break a strike.

“Oxfam is an extremely wealthy organisation and can afford to put forward an acceptable offer without impacting its charity work in the slightest.

"Its workers have their union’s total and unflinching support as they strike to make sure that happens.”

Oxford Mail: Oxfam in Broad StreetA recent survey of Oxfam workers found that in the last year eight per cent had used foodbanks, 22 per cent had not been able to pay their rent and 34 per cent have had to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families.

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The workers will take strike action impacting Oxfam offices and more than 200 shops on December 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31.

On the first day of strike action, workers will form a picket outside of Oxfam’s headquarters in Cowley.

On the second day of strikes, a picket will be held outside Oxfam’s first ever shop, in Broad Street, which first opened in 1948.

An Oxfam GB spokeswoman said: “We are obviously disappointed that Unite members have voted to strike.

“We are acutely aware of the pressures colleagues face as a result of the rising cost of living and we have done what we can to address this.

“We chose to bring forward paying the latest real Living Wage increases, and prioritised lower paid colleagues in this year’s award.

“We deeply regret that we could not do more but the settlement Unite is asking for is simply not affordable for Oxfam at a time when many of the communities we work with around the world are also facing sharply rising costs.

“We will now do everything possible to minimise the impact on our work and to support colleagues over the coming weeks.

"Oxfam needs reserves to ensure that we can continue to fight poverty during financial shocks such as the pandemic when our shops were closed and fundraising was difficult.

"We cannot use these savings to fund higher wages that will need to be paid year after year – what happens when they run out?”