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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Oxfam Scotland staff poised for strike action over pay

This news post is 8 months old

They will join UK colleagues if union ballot is successful

Staff at anti-poverty charity Oxfam could strike over pay with some workers claiming they are being forced to food banks.

Workers are being balloted by Unite and could see a strike for the first time in the charity’s 81-year history.

Any action would also affect Oxfam’s Scottish staff and operations.

It comes after staff rejected a pay offer of £1,750, plus a one-off payment of £1,000.

Managers at Oxfam said the offer represented the limits of what the charity could afford.

However Unite said Oxfam could afford a better offer without any impact on the charity’s work at home or abroad.

A survey of about 150 Oxfam workers carried out by Unite found that 8% had used food banks in the past year and more than one-third had had to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families.

More than one-fifth had not been able to pay rent in the past year.

Unite said it would ballot its members for strike action between 26 October and 16 November.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Oxfam’s hypocrisy is astounding. This is a charity in robust financial health that makes much of belonging to the Ethical Trading Initiative and bestowing the virtues of unions to lift workers out of poverty.

“Meanwhile, Oxfam’s own staff are on poverty pay, with some using foodbanks and unable to pay their rent. How can its leadership possibly justify ignoring its workers’ demands to be paid fairly and blocking their union?

“Oxfam can well afford to pay a reasonable rise without the slightest impact on its operations here or abroad.”

A spokesperson from Oxfam GB said: “As a real Living Wage employer and an organisation committed to tackling poverty, Oxfam is acutely aware of the impact of the rising cost of living on colleagues and addressing that is a priority for us.

“That is why we chose to bring forward pay increases for lower-paid colleagues and why we have ensured that these colleagues will have received a real terms pay increase over the past 12 months.

“We believe this pay award is fair and it is at the limit of what Oxfam can afford without taking vital resources away from our work fighting poverty with communities around the world. Colleagues understand that we face limited resources and tough choices and we hope they will recognise that when casting their ballot.

“We value the work of our trade unions and would much rather have reached agreement with Unite but what they are asking for is simply not affordable at a time when many of the communities we work with are also facing sharply rising costs.”