Poll: What do you think about pay cuts?
This poll is closed.
Pay is low enough - I won\'t stand for cuts
85.45%
188 85.45%
Pay is low - But a jobs a job I would accept it
12.27%
27 12.27%
Any pay is fine for what we do
0.45%
1 0.45%
I would be happy to do it for nothing
1.82%
4 1.82%
Total 220 vote(s) 100%
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Pay and Conditions
#21
I cannot beleive this question is being put forward.

Archaeologist pay should go up without question. I have been forced to leave a profession I love because of horrendous pay poor conditions and working practices have made it impossible to carry on.

The average wage for a digger with a couple of years experience is approximately ?1000 a month which in the south east virtually impossible to live on especially with a family.

The problem is the lack of formal recognised qualifications for practical archaeology which allows a constant stream of enthusiastic passionate inexperienced archaeologists who are willing to work often for nothing. On the whole they last a few years and drift into a specialism or leave to get a proper job because the want families and houses. There is a hard core of diggers who live with parents share with other diggers or have other means of support.

Commercial archaeology units should set a realistic minimum wage and stick to it, but unfortunately they are either incredibly badly run with huge amounts of mismanagement and waste or they are exploitative. I was recently digging on a huge pipeline job where the diggers were paid approximately ?7.50 an hour and charged out at ?35. The job lasted over a year with very little archaeology being dug but with up to 70 diggers at one point. The contractor didn't care as they were on cost plus and the consultant for the client didn't care as he was also employed.

I have seen appaling disgusting situations that are the norm, such as working in the winter without any welfare facilities. I had to build a tarpaulin lean to to keep out of pouring freezing rain to eat my lunch. I have also seen archaeology in evaluation trenchs covered back over because there wasn't money left in the pot for it to be dug.

Ask any archaeologist and off the record as they are so frightened of losing their jobs they will tell you the same. We should wake up and get in line with main stream construction. No self respecting construction worker would work for archaeology pay and certainly wouldn't put up with the conditions. The average building Labourer earns approximately the same as an archaeologist, often more.

I have heard a county archaeologist say 'can't we get a couple opf groundworkers for the price of an archaeologist' What!!! You wouldn't get one, and if he meant for the amount we were being charged at then what kind of mark up was there?

Please wake up archaeology is still run by the white middle aged middle classes and it needs to change drastically. Unfortunately it wont and the main thing which is being lost is the archaeology just so we can live the dream very sad indeed.
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#22
And here we are again... these stories are so common and so sad that what stops us...

ah.. the answer:

Bradders Wrote:The problem is the lack of formal recognised qualifications for practical archaeology which allows a constant stream of enthusiastic passionate inexperienced archaeologists who are willing to work often for nothing.

and

Bradders Wrote:I have seen appaling disgusting situations that are the norm, such as working in the winter without any welfare facilities. I had to build a tarpaulin lean to to keep out of pouring freezing rain to eat my lunch. I have also seen archaeology in evaluation trenchs covered back over because there wasn't money left in the pot for it to be dug.

Ask any archaeologist and off the record as they are so frightened of losing their jobs they will tell you the same.

Well perhaps when there is nothing left to fight for, Field Archaeologists might just wish they stood up and fought.
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
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#23
Does the following picture sum up archaeology today? And if so, should we be happy with that?
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
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#24
There are not many other professions where graduates who have spent 3 or sometimes more years at university starting out on ?15k. Saying that, despite the fact I am still paying off my student debt after 4 years at uni, I would accept a job on that pay just to get my foot on the archaeological ladder.
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#25
But would you accept less, just to get a job? Thats the conceptual question
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
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#26
Which is exactly the problem, Jenny. People in skilled trades aren't willing to work for so little, and if they are, its because they're apprentices, still living at home and they know they're the prospect of making proper money when they get qualified and self employed. I couldn;t see any prospect of carrying on in field archaeology if I wanted a settled family life.
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#27
In the pre-crash days, there was a common but unstated assumption that we were all working towards a common goal to improve the pay and conditions of all staff and drive up the quality of the archaeological product. As we come out of recession businesses are faced with the problem of how to maintain quality whilst reducing cost, in a market that has no conception of a quality archaeological product. They have been forced to restructure their models to adapt to new realities, and forensically examine their cost base.

The market pressure is on archaeological businesses to maintain a core staff of ?permanent?, experienced employees who are responsible for the final product, and a temporary staff of diggers who generate the raw material of data ? shaped into quality reports and illustrations back in the office. Whereas the cost of permanent employees is quite high (as it must also include for the entire business apparatus), the cost of temporary employees is quite low (as it only needs to be calculated contract to contract). Businesses seek to generate as much mark-up as possible on temporary employees, to off-set the other (barely breaking even, but quality orientated) elements of the business. If this can also be achieved by reducing the wages of temporary employees, businesses will have a competitive advantage in open tender.

BAJR Host Wrote:The discussion hinges on whether you feel that pay for junior staff should be frozen or cut - in order to allow companies to continue to be competitive? In principal it is the question... Is it better to have a job for less than no job?

This is a very relevant issue, and one that all commercial archaeologists need to carefully consider. It?s more complicated than just saying that manager grade staff should take a pay cut ? in many instances they already have. It also makes no sense to pose this in personal terms. If it?s the difference between eating or starving, people would take any job however badly paid, or at least do anything to keep their current poorly paid job whether that means sacrificing principles or not.

Markets have a heard mentality, and if we have learnt anything of the last 18 months it is that they need a strong regulatory hand. I would look to the IFA for leadership on this issue; the ROA scheme may be a voluntary regulation, but has critical mass and is the only show in town. If the IFA do not enforce compliance with minimum pay standards, prices will fall through the floor.

If the presumption to raise standards for the lowest level of site staff is rejected it has long term implications for the profession; the damage will be lasting, and potentially irreversible.
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#28
I am having to move back home at the age of nearly 30. Despite having a normally paid university job (and not a commercial unit one) for the last few months, living in the South is so expensive that I haven't been able to save anything.

The 'good' thing about moving home, is that I will be able to 'afford' to apply for digging jobs, which I love. It is a sad fact that it is increasingly becoming the case that minimum wage digging can only be afforded by those who have extremely low outgoings, such as paying your parents.

In what other profession would a skilled workforce who all have to live with their mammies just to get by be acceptable? :face-huh:

For me, it isn't a question of "Is it better to have a job for less than no job?" but "is it better to leave archaeology and have a job than have a lower paid archaeology one?" It might be selling out but at least you'd have money for more than beans on toast, and could maybe still keep archaeology as an interest until times are better? It's not my first choice but, I don't want to take my skills elsewhere, but as with many people I know, its looking like the increasingly likely one. Sad
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#29
I voted for the 'no cuts' option.

There are lots of good points raised above. On a couple of them:

archaeology being covered over because 'there's no money left in the pot' - is it also possible that this site went on to further work and so it was not neccesary to excavate at this point?

I've come across sites where people were being charged out at a (for example) project officer rate, but paid as a supervisor. Not on. As suggested above though, the difference in hourly rate covers a lot more than just the staff pay (employers NI, insurance, travel, company overheads to name just four).

The accomodation issue is, I think you'll find, down to the Tax Office suddenly pulling the plug on that by making it taxablle - I think there's at least one very large thread on the old BAJR site about that, so I suggest people go and have a look at that.

Personally, I've been paid pretty much the same (with some small fluctuations)for at least the last 10 years (as I realised when I filled in application forms in the last year). I have taken a lower paid job (not even in archaeoology!) in the last year because it's better than nothing, no-one should have to be in that position.

However why are we asking this question? Is the thought that we can employ 5 archaeologists for the cost of three if we pay them less? That doesn't make any sense. We only need a certain number of archaeologists for the contracts that are around, paying them less in order to charge less doesn't make commercial sense. This is the sort of thnking that led to a lot of small, new organisations going under in the 1990s. A lot of other types of oorganisation have put their staff onto shorter working weeks for set periods of time. Is that what we should be really thinking about? Not asking people to get paid less for the same amount of hours, but working less hours for a while to help with cash flow. Personally, I think it's still a non-starter given the issues of low pay, but at least it would be fairer than just cutting pay.

And finally - people talk about competitive tendering driving down quality and wages. Isn't that what your doing if you take a job that's badly paid?
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#30
A big pointer to one of the things that doesn't help the case is the number of people on this thread who have said something along the lines of:

A. I'd happily do it for free if I could
B. I do it for the love of the job.

I would have to say I was guilty as charged on both points but it's hard to imagine many site labourers, engineers, etc doing their job for the love of it.

So if every year a load of keen new people start out in archaeology it's no wonder the wages and conditions stay low - just keep taking the enthusiastic ones and wait until the jaded ones leave.

I would agree with the point that many people at management level started in the days when competative tendering in archaeology was just a consultants dream, and also seem to treat the lower level staff like student volunteers so why bother treating them well?!

Exploitation combined with those who seem only too willing to be exploited is a dangerous combination. We need to do more to look after our own.
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