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The Plight of UK Archaeology 2009
#41
Thanks for the edit Austin, my gruntle had been dissed and my dudgeon was up, clean forgot the no-names thing. Sorry.

I think the reason why I'm so cross about this one is that for years I've been the voice of reason on the side of units with (relatively) low pay, arguing that they attempt to compensate where possible with perqs, that archaeology is a vocation... all the usual stuff. I havn't ever gone on about the fact that I'm 30 with no savings, pension or house of my own, in fact I've told several people who complain about it to shut up or leave the profession. It seemed like a reasonable price to pay for a job that I truly loved. I've taken jobs on the opposite side of the country to my friends/family/partner, I've put up with sharing hotel rooms with complete strangers, I've been broke and injured. I've served my dues, uncomplaining, and I've loved my job.

But this (to me anyway) is beyond justification. It is a cynical attempt to bend normal conventions of what is 'away' work ie commutable from the main office of the employer. I defy anyone to regularly commute from the offices of mysterious company X (see- i'm improving!) to nottingham. Not possible. So what it actually constitutes is a circumvention of perqs with no rise in wages to compensate. It is a drop in pay, plain and simple. just one that gets around the BAJR ad rules and IFA limits. I doubt very much that there are enough local archaeologists to take this job and suspect that away workers will end up renting in 2 places at once just to get away from the dole queue. The companies in question are exploiting the current economic climate to cynical and twisted ends.

I must post on this forum about twice a year. I'm not a habitual spleen-venter, I just looked for a job this morning and after what I read I realised that I was ashamed to work in a profession like this. Its the first time I've ever felt like that and it shakes me to the core. If anyone from the 2 companies involved reads this I hope that they are ashamed to work there too and that they make representation to their management to stop this policy. I really feel that it is morally wrong.

My apologies for a very long post. And good luck to everyone seeking work because you're really going to need it if this catches on.

one girl went to dig, went to dig a meadow...
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#42
I aggree. The job ad you are talking about is offering a very poor deal. In my experience if a unit isn't offering accomodation and then source staff from outside the area ( i.e you've got to find your own accomodation ) then they'd be paying a least ?16,800 p.a and usually more than that, for a site assistant. Obviously they'd be paying more for Supervisors and PO's. If they pay below that amount it just isn't worth the bother, you might aswell pay them to work there.
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#43
I agree as well!

When I saw the advert I realised that I couldn't afford to take it. This is the kind of thing that drives away good, experienced archaeologists. One can only live like that if there's Mum and Dad to fall back on or one's lucky enough to have a well-paid partner.

The days of a local area are gone I think. I've always accepted that this is a travelling sort of a profession for most of us, so no issues there. But after a certain age it really isn't tenable to live out of a rucksack. We've banged on about career development for years and taking personal responsibility for it. Fine, I've paid for much of mine, but how is that possible living on hand-to-mouth away jobs with an unsure future every 3 months.

These are considerably worse terms than any similar projects I've seen in the last two years. They can't have it both ways. A new graduate without personal commitments can live like this (bye-bye mature students), but they cannot seriously be looking for highly experienced staff on these terms! Woe betide us if this is the Brave New World.
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#44
I am not defending the units involved (they are big enough to look after themeselves and much bigger than me), but I can see both sides of this (and surely I can't be the only one)... Although I will admit to helping run a campaign a few years back calling for archaeology to be kept 'local'.....

If this job had gone to a 'local' tenderer, the terms and conditions they would be offering would be pretty much identical to those that Borsetshire and Northern Rock are offering. I am guessing because local tenderer didn't get the job that the local archaeologists who could have worked there for local unit aren't, but would be interested in working for B&NR....

Surely nobody can be against local archaeologists getting local jobs, irrespective of whom the 'employer' is ..... I know for example that it has been common practice for years for archaeologists who reside in London to work for the unit that happens to win a contract...employment is more important than 'brand' loyalty and a significant number of archaeologists regularly swop employers...

In reply to the point made by Chrysalis, I happen to know of plenty of unemployed archaeologists in the East Midlands who will jump at a chance to work on this project. Newark is within 30 minutes drive of Lincoln for example where we all know things have not been so hot workwise in recent months.....so I don't think that B&NR have underestimated the jobs market in this instance.


[Image: 3334488270_7156e71b8b_t.jpg]

With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#45
No one is against local people getting jobs, but it could set a precedent. In future no unit will supply accomodation and only rely on a ''local'' workforce. Tough luck though if they haven't got enough local people to do the job, because they won't be able to get archaeologists from outside the region on those conditions.
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#46
It is also worth remembering the discussions that raged on the forum a few months back about accommodation being taxed. The issue was that the tax office were viewing those taken on for fixed term contracts for a project in a specific location (as is clearly identified for these adverts) as being based at that site/location for their "normal" place of work. Therefore if an employer provides accommodation at your normal place of work it is a taxable benefit. There were a lot of people landed with quite spiteful tax bills as a result of this.

There is a risk that the companies in question would find themselves at the sharp end of a tax office investigation if they offered the accommodation as they would be seen as in breach of the rules and/or you would end up with an unexpected tax bill.

As far as I'm aware there has not been a resolution to the contrary, although I'm prepared to be corrected.

Whether you consider the pay offered to be suitable is a different matter and I'd not disagree that it could be a lot better, but they meet BAJR criteria otherwise the jobs wouldn't be posted.
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#47
Chrysalis wrote: ' think the reason why I'm so cross about this one is that for years I've been the voice of reason on the side of units with (relatively) low pay, arguing that they attempt to compensate where possible with perqs, that archaeology is a vocation... all the usual stuff. I havn't ever gone on about the fact that I'm 30 with no savings, pension or house of my own, in fact I've told several people who complain about it to shut up or leave the profession. It seemed like a reasonable price to pay for a job that I truly loved. I've taken jobs on the opposite side of the country to my friends/family/partner, I've put up with sharing hotel rooms with complete strangers, I've been broke and injured. I've served my dues, uncomplaining, and I've loved my job.'

That was nice of you considering everyone else is in the same boat and became archaeologists, like you, because it is avocation and not a get-rich-quick scheme. If you don't like complaints of poor working conditions, health and safety concerns and low wages, then I suggest that perhaps you've been blinded by your love for archaeology. I can only say that if things are hard now maybe others could have counted on your support earlier on instead of telling people to leave the profession.
Right. Rant over. Going back to living in ditch and living off of pottery and environmental samples...

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#48
Good points teamonster, however IF there has been an accepted practice that away accommodation and subs are given for jobs of this type and duration(despite the iffy tax position), and then they are taken away (perhaps to resolve that tax position) then that would be a variation to established conditions and should be reflected in the pay.

I think there will be enough local diggers, with lots of experience, who will be happy to staff these sites in these times, after all, enough of us have to drive a fair whack every day. What I am worried about is IF the standard practice has been changed, that this has not been reflected in pay. As I have said in previous posts on this thread, its a difficult and divisive issue, especially on sites where some staff are from head office and some are locally hired, and they got different subs. I think the units are being upfront, which is good, but I would like to know if there has been a change, and if this is to become the new accepted practice (quite possibly due to tax laws) then whether there needs to be some resolution of the effect on pay.

It has to be remembered that this appears to be staff hired for a specific single project, for a few months, not a general change to away job rules, (i.e. if these staff were then sent to Cirencester, they would get away subs/accomm) but clarity is needed so everyone knows where they stand.
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#49
I can see nothing wrong in what A&B are doing. They have won a big contract and think they can recuit local labour. Having a policy of recuiting locally is good.

The important point is that these are the first ads for a big project for a while. Unit A has had a 50% reduction in their orders and have made people redundant. These ads perhaps are an indicator that things might be starting to improve which is what the BAJR survey indicated.

Chrysalis said "I've been broke and injured." This is a cuase for concern.

Peter Wardle
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#50
mmm. Like Kevin I can see both sides of this. I don't suppose it's against the AUP to mention LAS, since they aren't a company any more, having gone belly up last year. Just supposing they hadn't, they might have tendered for this job an been able to offer a day rate of fifty quid (or whatever) less than Borsetshire Archaeology or any other long distance unit. As other posters have pointed out, if units rely too much on local labour, they might have trouble finding people who can afford to work on those projects, even in the 'labour-rich environment' :-(

What I think we might see, which should be robustly resisted, is a widening of the area PMs will consider commutable when tendering for jobs, so people start travelling 2 hours or more each way to work.

freeburmarangers.org
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