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UK report on labor issues in commercial archaeology

A report has been issued by the Diggers Forum at the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) in the UK on away work and travel. The report is authored by Chiz Harward, Mary Neale, and Sadie Watson and can be downloaded here. The Diggers Forum requests that you “Please read through the report, discuss it with your colleagues and let us know what your comments and views are, particularly on the recommendations on advertising archaeological jobs, and on travel and away work.” The results of the survey show great disparities in travel and away work conditions and the report makes recommendations to solve these problems. For example, the principal recommendations on transparent advertising are:

  • Details of the starting salary available to a new starter, avoiding use of incremental pay ranges that may make salaries appear greater than they could be for a new starter.
  • State what level of experience is required for the post.
  • Any probationary period.
  • Details of sick pay, holiday entitlement and pension provision including any qualification
  • periods.
  • The length of the working week and whether any compulsory overtime may be required.
  • Where the job will be based and whether away work is envisaged.
  • Whether a driving licence or specific skills card is required.
  • Indicate whether accommodation will be provided if the contract is a short term appointment and whether there is any charge for this.
  • Indicate whether there are any subsistence allowances for away work and how much these are and when they are paid.
  • Give details of pay for travelling time for both drivers and passengers, clearly stating that travel time is not paid if that is the case.

It is great report and I recommend that everyone reads it. The Diggers Forum asks that you consider the following:

“The ultimate question must be asked, what kind of profession do we want to leave to future generations of archaeologists? Do we want to maintain the current system of disposable, deskilled workers living often hand-to-mouth and travelling across the country in the hope of just keeping going? Do we want to maintain a kind of two-tier system between those that have permanent jobs and those that are on short contracts; between those working as Site Assistants and those who have climbed the ladder to Supervisor and beyond?”

  1. Mervyn Boyle
    February 15, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    As a professional land surveyor, who is the father of a talented well educated daughter, who can only get short-term contracts as a field archaeologist. My comment would be that the profession needs to be brought into the 21st century. With proper professional membership like the RICS, with the title of Chartered Archaeologist you could then start to build the sort of professional status that other professions enjoy and hopefully better job and salary prospects. Companies who do have resonable work programmes need to start giving reasonable lenght of job contracts and some security otherwise the profession will continue to lose talented people.
    T.V. programmes like Time Team, which may not be liked by some archaeologists, has created greater awareness of what the industry and does and show how important it is within the Hertiage and Culture sector of the economy. But from my perspective as an outsider the industry has not tapped into this, to the extent in which it should have.

    • February 17, 2012 at 10:19 pm

      Supposedly one of the archaeology bodies IfA is moving forward with a plan to become a chartered body. Archaeologists are polarized as to if this will change conditions or not. Time will probably tell. Agree, its a shame we lose some many talented people.

  1. February 10, 2012 at 10:45 am

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