Strike action by hundreds of Oxfam workers has been suspended after talks resulted in an improved pay offer being made.

More than 500 workers began to take strike action on Friday (December 8), the first time in the charity’s 81-year history.

Strikes scheduled for December 14, 15, 16 and 17 have been postponed as an act of good faith while the offer is considered. 

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If the pay offer is rejected, strike action will begin again on December 20.

An Oxfam spokesperson said: “We welcome the progress made during talks last week and are pleased that the strike action has been suspended.”

Oxford Mail: The Oxfam superstore in Oxford The Oxfam superstore in Oxford (Image: Photo: Oxfam)Strikes had also been scheduled for December 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31, which could disrupt Oxfam’s trading over the Christmas period.

It was announced last week by Unite, the union employed by the charity Oxfam, that workers will strike for 17 days over the Christmas period over pay.

Unite regional coordinating officer Jamie Major said: “Unite has been clear from the outset that this dispute could and should be resolved through negotiations.

“Following talks on Friday, an improved offer was made and therefore Unite has suspended action to allow its members to be balloted on the proposed deal.” 

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 six per cent, whichever is higher, plus a one-off payment of £1,000 for the lowest earners, said Unite.

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.

"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.

Last Friday, Oxfam said it is disappointed that the 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

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

There are eight Oxfam shops in Oxford, two in Wallingford, one in Abingdon and one in Witney.

Oxfam also has a supply centre in Bicester.