Union bosses want answers over Oxfam jobs


Charity agrees not to bid for government cash 

20th February 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Union officials are calling on Oxfam to reassure staff jobs are safe as the fallout from the Haiti sex scandal continues.

The charity announced it would stop bidding or UK government cash until it had satisfied itself it can meet "high standards" expected of a charity of its standing.

International development secretary Penny Mordaunt has threatened to axe government cash amid allegations some of Oxfam's aid workers used prostitutes in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

Unite’s Oxfam branch has now written to the Charity Commission, the Department for International Development and the International Development Select Committee with a series of recommendations to ensure staff as well as the the public are fully protected, a spokesperson said.

The charity has over 10,000 staff globally.

National officer for the not-for-profit sector Siobhan Endean said: “Oxfam staff are dedicated to delivering aid to some of the poorest people in the world and the vast majority are entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.

“Unite will arrange an urgent meeting with management and are seeking clear assurances that jobs are safe and that Oxfam’s management is putting a comprehensive plan in place to resolve the current crisis and to restore the charity’s reputation.”

It comes as the charity’s chief executive Mark Goldring was grilled by MPs over allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by staff. 

He told MPs he was "sorry" for the damage the charity has done to the people of Haiti and the wider efforts of aid workers, and also for comments made under "stress" in the immediate aftermath, where he stated: "The intensity and ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots?"

It has now emerged the charity chief is part of a probe at the charity, following a complaint made last month over how senior management had responded to requests to re-open a 2010 case involving allegations of sexual abuse.

In Scotland four charities have issued statements relating to misconduct probes following the Oxfam scandal.

Dumfries-based Halo Trust revealed it has one member of staff currently suspended pending a sexual misconduct inquiry while the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (SCIAF) said last week it had dealt with two sexual misconduct cases.

Mercy Ships, the aid charity backed by Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag, and Mary’s Meals posted statements saying their organisations have had to deal with one case each involving “inappropriate relationships” in the past.

In the fall out, Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, stepped down from his role at two charities after admiting to "inappropriate" behaviour while working for Save the Children.

Scots charities have been encouraged to post information after the Scottish Government wrote to all international development organisations warning them their funds would be at stake if it discovered any allegations of wrongdoing.

It comes on top of new information posted on the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator’s (OSCR) website warning charities and trustees to “act in the best interests of their charity and, in particular, to act with due care and diligence,” following the Oxfam scandal. 

OSCR also issued guidance to trustees to highlight, at their next meeting, the importance of safeguarding - keeping vulnerable beneficiaries, volunteers and staff safe - and keeping records of notifiable events.