Unite, the UK’s largest union, which represents Oxfam staff is supporting the charity to quickly replace its chief executive Mark Goldring who announced yesterday (Wednesday 16 May) that he is stepping down at the end of the year.

Unite made the call for the swift action as approximately 100 Oxfam staff in the UK are facing redundancy. As part of the reorganisation Unite is also urging Oxfam’s senior management to embrace the union’s Manifesto for ‘culture change’ in the international development sector. 

Unite is alarmed that many of the charities unique humanitarian projects which are keeping people alive in places such as Yemen, South Sudan and Gaza are at risk of closure due to the UK government and other bodies freezing funding. 

Dedicated staff face losing their jobs 

Unite regional coordinating officer Nick Owen, said: “Oxfam workers, many of whom have dedicated their lives to the charity face losing their jobs, through no fault of their own. Staff who remain may well have vastly different roles and responsibilities. 

“Given the uncertainty Oxfam is facing, a new Chief Executive needs to be appointed as swiftly as possible so that they can assess what the charity needs to do to continue to function and take the organisation forward. This will reassure staff that everyone is working on the same page and those making the decision on jobs are dedicated to Oxfam’s long-term future. 

“People in desperate need of food and water to survive should not be penalised by government decisions on funding. In many global emergencies, Oxfam is often the only organisation with enough expertise to build complex water and sanitation systems. 

“It is essential that the UK government and other governmental organisations immediately restore funding so that these projects continue.” 

Manifesto for cultural change 

In order to restore confidence in the international development sector Unite is urging all charities to adopt the 10 point plan included in its manifesto for ‘cultural change’. 

The manifesto seeks to establish: “A culture where unacceptable behaviour is not tolerated, where people can report abuse or whistle-blow, and people will be held accountable for their actions and decisions. This focuses on inequality, power, labour rights and diversity.” 

Long term strategy 

Unite national officer for the voluntary sector Siobhan Endean, said: “It is essential that organisations in the international development sector have a long term strategy backed with secure funding streams to ensure that we can continue to provide vital humanitarian assistance to the world’s poorest communities. 

“There needs to be leadership within the sector to overcome the recent crises in funding and safeguarding. A vital first step in achieving this is not only to adopt Unite’s manifesto for cultural change but to work with the union to ensure it is embedded across organisations in the sector.” 

ENDS 

Notes to editors: 

Manifesto for ‘culture change’ in the international development sector

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey