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An opportunity for expansionist units
#31
'Paid bank holidays (or equivalent) are your legal right. If your unit is not giving you bank holidays or equivalent as paid leave then they are in breach of the law. They can tell you when to take the leave but they cannot take away your right to 28 days' annual leave per year (for full-time staff). Regarding sick leave, all of the private companies I have worked for have given paid sick leave. Paid sick leave is best practice and is not the sole prerogative of a council unit. Kel has addressed the issue of deficits. It's true that council units can often have deficits in successive years but that situation leads to uncomfortable talks with councillors and reviews of staffing needs. Council units do lay people off (I have been through that process several times) but it is a pain to do so they try to find ways not to have to, such as redeploying people to other parts of the council instead. This last point is probably your best point about advantages for council units, but the councils I worked for still took their cut from the unit at every possible stage, including charging for admin and IT support.'




I suppose I better clarify my poorly-made point here; I meant that Bank Holidays and sick leave (and possibly even annual leave) were paid directly by the Council, with the unit in question just covering their working days with their charge-out rates. I didn't mean to infer that people shouldn't receive Bank Holiday, sick or annual leave pay or that some units have an advantage over others because of they don't pay that stuff. As I said in my last post I'm not sure if this is still the situation at the Council unit in question, but it did used to be.


'The incentive to get rid of the feckless, idle, work-shy fops and mere incompetents around the unit is still there, because such people negatively affect morale and lead to poorer productivity on all fronts. Managers in council units want efficient digging and reporting machines just as much as managers in private units. It's not the incentive that is the problem. Rather it is the hoops that you have to jump through to get rid of people. That said, it does happen and, as I mentioned earlier, I have seen it happen several times.'



Agreed, although it's the long-term staff that are the problem here. The old lags can hang around for years and be unproductive and can just sit on their pensions. WIth temporary staff it's usually just a question of letting their contract expire.
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#32
"I’m sure you are experienced, intelligent and very good at your job. I just don’t think you should be paid for what you do by local or central government unless your role is a curatorial one."

1) What ?! - please defend this statement Milton.......


2) also you seem to suggest that following proper procedures for redundancy (consultation, review, redeployment etc.) is simply an annoyance we could do without....council or not, any Proper arch company (i.e. one with Union membership) will be following nearly the same recommendations (take a look at the BIG uk units...)

You seem convinced that archaeology will operate better as a fully commercial activity, despite evidence to the contrary....
You have presented evidence for the negative aspects of Council operations (ie across all councils and services/departments)....so presumably you want to see all council services privatised....
You have not presented the full picture of what councils contribute to local communities and society at large.....

just what exactly is it you have against Councils?

(will you benefit personally in some way?)
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#33
Milton Wrote:I suppose I better clarify my poorly-made point here; I meant that Bank Holidays and sick leave (and possibly even annual leave) were paid directly by the Council, with the unit in question just covering their working days with their charge-out rates.
That was not my experience of working for a council unit. We were expected to cover all operating costs, including admin, IT, holidays and sick leave out of the money we earned. Council procedures meant that everything took longer than it should and we could not respond quickly enough for a number of jobs that we might otherwise have won. The advantage of being part of the council, and one which you have not mentioned, was that anything we did was backed up by solid funding. Private units can find themselves cash-poor at the wrong time because of waiting for invoices to be paid, whereas the council unit could draw on the funds necessary until the invoices were paid. That is the main and most important benefit of being part of the council. Everything else is swings and roundabouts.
'Reality,' sa molesworth 2, 'is so unspeakably sordid it make me shudder.'
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#34
Odinn - good point about the funding situation. That is the main reason the management at my local county unit has bent over backwards to stay part of the Council. However, the situation is just not fair in my eyes. Why should they be effectively bailed-out by public money? That just is not a level playing field and an unfair advantage. There are masses of private sector companies, large, medium and small, who have to chase invoices from clients. Why should archaeological companies be any different?

'All the rest is just swings and roundabouts' - to me this comment covers a multitude of sins regarding the points we've already discussed - conflicts of interest, semi-monopolistic behaviour etc

GnomeKing - my local county unit make the most of their community engagement role to their Council masters, which reinforces the justification (in their eyes) that they should remain a Council service. Community archaeology is commendable and worthy, but the local community-driven element of the local projects actually comes from the curatorial section through an outreach officer, and not from the field unit themselves. As far as the field unit is concerned, the ratio of community projects to commercial archaeological projects is tiny, and I don't think that they can honestly hold themselves up as being a publice service through reinforcing this point to their parent organisation. They are a commercial operation and use their community involvement as no more than a self-justifying tool for remaining within the protectionist auspices of local govenment, with their main motive being the reliance on public funds as a cushion whilst invoices are chased (see first para above).

Now having a local field unit that has dedicated archaeologists to lead community projects is fine with me. This is the situation at a local unitary authority near me (who thankfully don't take the lead of their immediate neighbours). They derive their funds from external funding sources such as the HLF and do not have a local commercial archaeological service as it's a conflict of interest. This should be the model for every Council.

Taking your point about redundancy - yes, much of the redundancy process is an inconvenience. However, given Union involvement etc as well as EU law the sutuation is what it is. It's not what I would wish on any company.

Where is the 'evidence' that county units produce a better product? This is your subjective opinion, as my words are. I agreed this point with Odinn earlier - outputs are mixed both in private sector and public sector organisations - but imo county units, from my experience, are not the benchmark of excellence. In my present role, I've read hundreds of grey literature reports and the ones from county units dont stand out any more than the others.

I have nothing against Councils, GnomeKing, apart from the general waste and inefficiency of the organisations (something that thankfully is being addressed with the recent spending review), but I think that commercial archaeology has no place being part of a public service and being funded and/or subsidised by public money. Councils to me are people who should provide proper front line services like community care, emergency services, waste collections (come to think of it, they could be hived off too) etc. The contribution of County unit commercial archaeological services to local education is minimal. Tokenism, in fact, to reinforce their main agenda, which is financial support to survive.

No, I would not benefit personally from the 'loss' of my local County unit. Financially that is. It might make my job better though. I wouldn't have to deal with the laissez-faire attitude of some of the staff I have to do business with, in addition to tedious comments about how much I earn, when the local staff are sitting on their armour-plated pensions and unbelievable annual leave entitlements.

As for your first point, what do I have to defend exactly? My position should be clear from this and my previous posts.
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#35
Milton Wrote:their main motive being the reliance on public funds as a cushion whilst invoices are chased

Now you have hit on an interesting point - when it comes to unfair advantages, never mind all the other points mentioned, one thing that is probably difficult to deny is the convenient situation some companies have - the backing of a larger organisation, council/charity/whatever to see them through periods of poor cash flow, which, as I'm sure many people out there know, is one of the major factors to lead to companies failing. I have been in a position where staff have had to be made redundant essentially because of cash flow, had there been a pot of council funding to fall back on that might not have happened. Indeed, looking at the accounts of some charity units (freely available on the Charity Commission website) you wonder how many times the 'mother' charity, perhaps receiving grants from elsewhere, is propping up the failing 'commercial' set up. I have certainly seen this happen in a smaller scale charity I was once involved in, although I'm not sure it's technically allowed according to charity rules.

Anyhoo, Merry Christmas etc!
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#36
Raises the question of how new operations can raise enough cash to bankroll large jobs, I believe one outfit I was working for in the 90s was having to get around this by the partners occasionally having to take out loans against their houses! I assume council-run units don't have this small inconvenience, and the managers perhaps have a less intense personal interest in things running smoothly? :face-stir:
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#37
Dinosaur Wrote:Raises the question of how new operations can raise enough cash to bankroll large jobs, I believe one outfit I was working for in the 90s was having to get around this by the partners occasionally having to take out loans against their houses! I assume council-run units don't have this small inconvenience, and the managers perhaps have a less intense personal interest in things running smoothly? :face-stir:

I too worked for a company where the partners were using their homes as security.....risky then And I would guess riskier now.

That said I have worked for a local authority unit where due to the timing of projects, qualification periods and the dates the authority payroll had to be entered into the system, short contract staff ended up not being paid for nearly 2 months and I, off my own back, provided some diggers with 'subs' to see them through what otherwise would have been a very lean time. So it's not always rosy on the inside of the greenhouse looking out (where also by the way we try and avoid throwing stones!!)....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#38
kevin wooldridge Wrote:I too worked for a company where the partners were using their homes as security.....risky then And I would guess riskier now.

That said I have worked for a local authority unit where due to the timing of projects, qualification periods and the dates the authority payroll had to be entered into the system, short contract staff ended up not being paid for nearly 2 months and I, off my own back, provided some diggers with 'subs' to see them through what otherwise would have been a very lean time. So it's not always rosy on the inside of the greenhouse looking out (where also by the way we try and avoid throwing stones!!)....


That's not quite the same issue as cash flow though is it, that's surely just poor organisation? Hardly a good advert for an authority run unit either, although potentially some admission that there is actually a greenhouse in the first place.
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#39
A lot of this sounds like poor organisation, poor planning and non existant business plans to me...
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Merlot in one hand, Cigar in the other; body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO HOO, what a ride!
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#40
So you like the idea of, eg, no one getting paid, no welfare, no accommodation, no vehicles, no tools etc etc until the client eventually gets around to paying the bill, possibly months later after receipt of a string of threatening letters from the soliciters? I did specify new companies that haven't yet had the opportunity to amass the proceeds of previous jobs. Large clients these days usually require evidence that contractors have sufficient means to complete the contracted work, so large lumps of cash need to be visible in the company's accounts, which is tricky for new start-ups :face-stir:
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