Hundreds of Oxfam shop and office workers have gone on strike for the first time in the charity’s 81-year history.

The members of Unite the Union will strike for 17 days over the Christmas period after rejecting a pay offer in last minute talks.

The workers voted by 83 per cent in favour of strike action in a ballot with an 82 per cent turnout after they rejected a pay offer of £1,750 or 6 per cent, whichever is higher, plus a one-off payment of £1,000 for the lowest earners, said Unite.

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The union said pay at Oxfam has fallen by 21 per cent in real terms since 2018, with 22 per cent of 150 Oxfam workers polled not being able to afford their rent.

It further stated that 34 per cent of workers had to choose between heating and eating, with eight per cent using a foodbank.

“Meanwhile, Oxfam has huge reserves and cash surplus of £44.6 million, its highest in at least five years. Oxfam can easily afford to raise workers’ wages,” a Unite spokesperson said.

The union added that the strike of nearly 500 workers will affect 200 shops.

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 food banks, it refuses to engage with the only union representing its workforce and it is considering using unpaid labour to break a strike.

“This is rank hypocrisy from an organisation that should know better.”

Oxfam said it is disappointed that today’s strike went ahead, but it does understand the frustration of colleagues who are facing a steeply rising cost of living.

An Oxfam spokesperson said: “We are proud to be a Real Living Wage employer and are doing what we can to address colleagues’ concerns within the limits of the resources we have available.

“Communities we work with to fight poverty are also facing rising costs, so our resources are stretched but we are committed to finding a solution. We hope that discussions with Unite taking place at ACAS today will help us move forward.

“We are doing everything we can to minimise disruption and to support all colleagues – those on strike and those who are working – through this period.”

Industrial action will take place on 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 December.

The first Oxfam charity shop in the United Kingdom was established by Cecil Jackson-Cole in Broad Street, Oxford, and began trading in December 1947.

There eight Oxfam shops in Oxford, two in Wallingford, one in Abingdon and one in Witney. Oxfam also has a supply centre in Bicester.  


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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