Unite, which represents Oxfam staff is supporting the charity to quickly replace its chief executive Mark Goldring who announced yesterday (May 16) 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 charity’s 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.
“Oxfam workers, many of whom have dedicated their lives to the charity face losing their jobs, through no fault of their own,” said Unite regional coordinating officer Nick Owen. “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.”
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.”
Unite national officer for the voluntary sector Siobhan Endean added,“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.”