Poll: Would you see a Unionised Workforce as a good thing in Archaeology?
This poll is closed.
Yes (definately)
256 51.20%
Yes (with reservation)
193 38.60%
No (definately)
24 4.80%
No (but could be persuaded)
23 4.60%
I don't care
4 0.80%
Total 500 vote(s) 100%
* You voted for this item. [Show Results]

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Would you see a Unionised Workforce as a good thing in Archaeology?
Well, the clue is in the title...

Strong union representation or not? what are your views...

would it help in the long run... or be just another card in your wallet?
For really I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he
Thomas Rainborough 1647
Yes, with reservation. Not sure what the rules would be, and whether "bad" archaeologists will get a foot in the door and ruin things for the worthwhile ones. Not too familiar with UK union workings!
It was ever thus! Rolleyes
Well, some would say that we have a union, but there's not enough members to make it truly effective. Prospect is a good first step, but we ideally need a union that knows a bit more about what we do and what the job involves. I see it as a chicken and egg problem, with people not joining because they say that the union doesn't do anything. The fault in that logic being that if only 20% or professional archaeologists are members of that union, then of course it can't do anything. So, either we need a massive drive to make Prospect more effective, or we scrap the whole thing and start anew with something different.

But in general, a unionised workforce can only be a good thing, especially with the way some units treat their staff.
Well said chainoffools

I think we are seeing a real and currently overwhelming YES ... and so I will be happy to help in any way to be part of a recruitment drive... but only for something that does not peter out...
Yes I feel we do need a unionised workforce, in my mind it is the best way to improve archaeologist pay and conditions in the long run. The way some units treat their staff is terrible. Having been talking to others who are not archaeologists but have have jobs that also involve spening lots of time on away work in B&B's and such like, they tell me our conditions seem exploitive and laughable! It gets hard trying to remain upbeat and defend your profession all the time!
As a new contributor to these discussions I cannot emphasise enough the benefits I and my colleagues have derived in recent years from being members of a large, well resourced, and 'no nonsense' union (T&G/Unite). No doubt there will be problems and sadly many of these will stem from within our own profession. There will inevitably be those who for various reasons, some more wholesome than others, who feel the need to ever lower the 'costs' bar that we must all creep under to win work. The seeming pride with which some archaeologists/organisations advertise their ability to reduce client's costs to an absolute minimum, citing case studies should be questioned. How can this drive for reduced funding of archaeology, whether it manifest as ever fewer days on site, or the strangling of pay and conditions, continue to be legitimised by our profession ? Ever downward pressure on archaeological resources is simply not compatible with maintenance of standards, or creation of credible opportunities for individuals to pursue a career in archaeology, whilst enjoying a reasonable standard of living and job security. Doing nothing should no longer be an option.
Thanks Herne.

AS you say...

Quote: Doing nothing should no longer be an option.

Once this thread is 'at an end' it should be possible to make a serious move ... citing support... what it needs is transferring a voting click into action... I need site staff... I need them to be willing to distribute information... I will also be asking the same of companies... whether unionised or not. and trying to do my bit. I can't do this alone... I need help

So if there are any site staff out there willing to work with me (and yes you can do it without any public naming) get in touch with me...

info@bajr.org ... mark the email - BAJR Fed - Unions
I had a look at the TGWU website and who they represent..

Could they be approached as well?

just a thought
Hi all, first post and what an interesting one.

I am not sure a union would be any good despite the fact that I would agree to have one with reservation. I should emphasize that it is not just 'diggers' or 'site staff' who are poorly paid and feel put upon... everyone else does too. Who are you going to to aim union membership at? There are some pointers to bear in mind during discussion... these are not necessarily my own views. I am however concerned that a union would choose its battles badly and aim it at those companies who are actually good on the whole. Sadly you just do not see how good they were until you leave them. Some companies may appear to take the proverbial Michael but in other areas they are more than adeqaute.

It is not just the archaeological contracting units which drive costs and wages down. There are some consultants and their clients wish to keep their costs as tlow as possible and archaeology IS seen as a waste of time and money. What are you going to do with them? They are a big factor for keeping costs low. If a company turns round as says that reduction in costs is laughable, the client will find someone else less scrupulous.

There are unions including Prospect and Unison (for those in local authority). Join those and you will increase their clout. There will also be shop stewards who are experienced in legal matters.

It is not just site staff who are poorly paid and represented. Inhouse specialists and technicians who have a fantastic and unique set of skills are poorly paid and often not respected.

Commerical Archaeology IS a profit making business. It relies on keeping clients, curators and staff happy to succeed- and not necessarily in that order. No work = no money= no jobs.

Archaeology is changing yet again. There needs to be wholscale changes across the board. If increasing union representation is part of that then fine. But it need to be part of change and not separate to it.

Working away is part of the job especially as there is not enough work to keep units going. Poor quality B&B's arent good. Sadly if there is a last minute job that comes in and you have to work away, poor quality accommodation is often all you get. It does not mean to say that the unit does not respect its workers.

Quis custodes ipsos custodiet

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