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Pay: an analysis
This is a far from complete first draft for my analysis for improving pay and conditions
1. All archaeologists are paid too little.
2. APPAG has made recommendations about what we should be paid by comparison with ?field surveyor?
3. A back of the paper envelope exercise suggests that minima of the IFA grades should be increase by
PIFA 4% to average graduate wage
AIFA ? 26% to national average
MIFA ? 49% to Field surveyor wage
These are starting points for bands of pay, and I feel that pay within the bands should reflect experience. It is also important that the conditions and benefits of employment are equivalent in different organisations
4. An organisation unilaterally paying this to its staff would price itself out from winning future contracts and would be in difficulty with the costs of projects in its books.
5. For archaeological organisations to increase wages significantly above inflation without a detrimental commercial knock on effect they will have to work together as a group representing most if not all archaeological employers.
6. Wages could only be increased over a period of time with increments above the average annual wage increase.
7. A possible mechanism is the RAO scheme. At the moment it includes 52 organisations, with several being assessed and a number ?filling in the forms?. Membership of the scheme is voluntary so members have to be certain of benefits of being in the scheme outweighing the extra costs of imposing higher levels of regulation on themselves compared to the majority of the competitors.
8. Hence only small increases can be asked of RAOs at present, constrained by what is seen as commercially viable.
9. An increase in the numbers of RAOs could speed up this process, as could an increase in IFA membership which would increase the voice the IFA has in lobbying different stakeholders, and voices within organisations to become an RAO.
10. However the IFA is a professional organisation representing all levels of the profession. Some would question if it is appropriate for the IFA to act as a trade union for only one section of its constituents (all though everyone will ultimately benefit from increased pay).
11. Strong well-supported unions would speed up the process of increasing wages across the board. At the moment there are few archaeologists in unions, and those that are represented by several different unions (Prospect, Unison, AUT etc.). Therefore national pay bargaining cannot proceed very quickly. However at a local unit level the potential usefulness of union membership and an elected unit union rep is quite strong, as I have suggested elsewhere. Higher union membership will speed up bringing about higher pay .

However the people paying for archaeologists (Developers, national and local government) also have to be persuaded to cover the increased costs. They need to be shown that archaeology is a serious profession. They have to be persuaded that archaeology has real value. They have to be persuaded that the huge number of skills required of any archaeologist are high and varied, and so we should be remunerated accordingly. I feel that that is best done through a strong professional association. I think that one of the outcomes of the training initiatives highlighted elsewhere is to demonstrate the high levels of skills we all require.
Thanks Tile Man,
I agree with much of what you say, but mainly the early bits! In the spirit of debate here's where I disagree (and this is a far from complete set of ideas too):

5) Some field units in the UK pay far in advance of the current IFA minimums without it seeming to have much effect on their competitiveness. I know because I work for one and know of others through hearsay. I seem to remember a suggestion a while back that RAOs actually pay less than non-RAOs on average. I can't prove that, but seems supposrted by anecdote. Therefore, I don't agree that all or most archaeological employers need to raise their wages together, although that would be desirable.

6) There is no reason why wages must go up gradually rather than suddenly. I seem to remember a scandal a few years back when NHS laboratory staff were being paid ludicrously small wages (about what an archie gets paid!), and their wages were raised dramatically and suddenly following a media campaign. I realise that the analogy doesn't hold good in detail, but it shows that there is nothing in the laws of nature or society that precludes sudden, dramatic wage rises.

7) The RAO scheme should be used to raise wages for several reasons, a) it is good for the profession, and thats what the IFA is about furthering, b) they act at present as a brake on wages (see point 5) as there is no incentive at all for an RAO to raise its wages much above the minimums, and c) it is the nearest we have to a forum of all archaeological employers - it is best placed to set the benchmark wages.

:face-thinks: No, no, no! If all RAOs were to raise their wages dramatically then that would pressurise non-RAOs to do so also to attract staff. Who would you rather work for in that scenario?
Besides which, to reverse an argument used by several members of this board, any client employing an RAO would know that they were paying for quality work with certain assurances about the quality of service they would expect. They would be willing to pay extra for the privilege if thats what it meant in the short term.

10) Nobody wants the IFA to take the place of a trade union. However, miserly pay, lack of holiday/sick pay, unpaid overtime, staff having to use their own cars without reimbursement etc, etc damages the profession of archaeology. The IFA is supposed to further the interests of the profession. My point is that pay is not a sectional interest.

11) I agree about trade unions, but not if this means that the responsibility for low pay be shifted to their shoulders. In the present trade union climate in archaeology, the IFA is better placed to do something constructive on the issue.

It stands to reason, if the IFA were to really achieve something about pay they wouldn't have to worry about membership - I (and I suspect many many others) would be queueing up to hand over our ?100s!
Thanks Real-job. Here are my responses:

5. Different organisations have different circumstances in different parts of the UK, relating to costs, competitors curatorial authority etc. They also have different benefits packages, and varying job descriptions. Where I last worked I was in an RAO that was competing against a number of other non-RAO organisations and the overhead was tight. Without access to surveys about pay across different units along comparative jobs we would just be comparing anecdotes. The outwage resource is useful but a) it is not a truly representative sample and b) There is confusion about job titles and no easy way of checking that equivalent jobs are being compared. For instance ?experienced archaeologist? meaning anything from experienced excavator to project manager is at the heart of the suggestions that RAOs are paying less. When I have time I?ll see if I can track down any potential sources of suitable data ? but otherwise we will be just quoting anecdotal evidence at each other which supports our beliefs, so wouldn?t get us much further.
Thinking about it, if we get beyond problems of commercial confidentiality, such a survey could be used to reassure managers that they would not be pricing themselves out of the market.
But in principle, except in very special circumstances, I doubt too many would risk it. It would be interesting to know the circumstances by which your employer pays more and is structured to determine if that is applicable to other organisations.

6. Well I see your point, but the NHS is a specific political case English Heritage has just had a real term funding cut, and I am not sanguine about the present government ignoring the concerns of developers (to take a constituency at random). It also boils down to selling archaeology as a serious profession deserving of proper pay to groups outside of the profession.
A project involving 10 PIFA, 2 AIFA and 1 MIFA would see its costs rise by c. ?23 000, using the numbers I gave. Never mind the increase in costs for new projects ? how does that effect existing projects? So wages have to be increased above average earnings increase in a managed way over a period of time, so that the increase in costs are known and can be planned for ? although what length that period is depends on what pressures can be bought.

7) Yes I agree. But the RAO scheme is voluntary ? if an organisation thinks that the costs and strictures involved are too much they will leave, so changes have to be made by peer group consensus. For your individual points
a) I agree
b) B) I disagree. I do not believe that the IFA minima act as breaks, (and we all agree that they should be ? there is no pressure on anyone ever to pay more than a minimum value set, and I don?t think that we will get far quoting anecdotal evidence at each other
c) What about Scaum? There are 52 RAOs at present ? yes they can benchmark wages, and are probably the best placed, but they are not very strongly based at present! I can see why they would be cautious, and why more RAOs could speed these mechanisms up.
Okay a more detailed mechanism
My back of the envelope exercise suggest that PIFA can be bought in line with the desired level over 3 years with a 2% above the annual average wage increase (AAWI) currently c. 4%. AIFA needs 5% above AAWI over 8 years and MIFA needs 5% above AAWI over 9 years. There are problems with this model ? for instance if you get used to above AAWI increases which then stop it could get annoying, especially if others in the grades above you are still getting increases. However I am concerned that the recognition of the different levels of responsibility (especially at AIFA level) are not suitably recognised in the current wage structure. Mind you as the MIFA and AIFA increases are set over the long term I would expect that they would be incorporated with the restructuring of the profession which would hopefully come with accreditation and chartered status. It strikes me that now would be a good time to get a campaign to negotiate for these rises for April 2008, which would allow plenty of time for people to manage cost increases.

:face-thinks: Well to be glib I would work for the organisation that was still in business. It would help if there were a greater awareness of employment rights in the population as a whole. Low paid units find workers at the moment, if you can?t get a job in a high paid unit would you leave the profession, or go to a low paid unit?
And for your second point ? it depends on the nature of your client base. Most clients in my experience will only pay for the archaeology because they have to, so they will try to use the cheapest that the curatorial service will allow. Of course some clients will realise that you get what you pay for, in terms of accurate costings and times, but they are not the majority!
This leads me back to my principle concern of lobbying for strong well supported curatorial services (even more important than pay, as that all becomes academic if there are no jobs, because there are no archaeological conditions on developments. But I digress?.)

10) Yes I agree with you and indeed the IFA has been amending its constitution to highlight this very point.
and this is why the changes to the minima have been suggested

11) Well I think both should work together ? its not a case of shifting responsibilities, but the more groups and the more people working and lobbying towards the same goals the easier and the speedier we get to where we all want to be! And I have to agree with what was put up elsewhere about chicken and eggs? However a campaign for a specific aim, such as suggested above would benefit from people joining the IFA (I would say that wouldn?t I!) so they could vote for change, or perhaps joining the diggers forum to help lobby the IFA, so that the members of the diggers forum on council can point to their huge support base, show the numbers supporting these changes. And of course more union involvement means that local negotiations, or even national pay bargaining, can point to a highly popular campaign to support pay claims.
Just a quick comment on this (An excellent thread and very informative)

BAJR will be enforcing the new guidelines on all BAJR advertisers... which should reassure the RAOs that the playing Field is level...

THere are not many companies or Contractors who are neither RAO or BAJR recognised -

Working together, we have most bases covered.

Another day another WSI?
Further useful information about wages:

the annual work of James-Drummond Murray who does a review of jobs advertised in JIS with some ads from BAJR. The latest published stuff is in TA 56 which you could access on-line at . A further review should be forthcoming fairly soon. The drawback with this information is that, being trawled from ads, it is likely to present starting salaries and, thus, may not be wholly representative of pay levels generally.

The second suggestion is the data in Profiling the Profession, available on-line at Unfortunately, of course, this material is a little dated as it relates to 2002/2003.
So there it is (Thanks Host!):
If the IFA raises its minima for all grades by the substantial amount necessary, all RAOs will be bound by it and all companies who advertise on BAJR will be bound by it. That is the (vast?) majority of archaeology fieldwork units in the UK.

The sticking point has always been that RAOs would not unilaterally raise their wages for fear of being undercut. I have always questioned whether that would be the case and it now seems that it is even more unlikely.

For those few companies who will slip through the net, a) They will find it hard to attract staff in the medium term, b) in the short term, their existing staff will have a means to put pressure on their bosses to raise wages.

What are we (or rather the IFA!) waiting for?

<starts thinking of first holiday abroad for 6 years or more>Smile

Edit: Whoops, forget the holiday - will have to pay my IFA fees instead...!

If it was imposed in one go, all the RAOs would leave the RAO system, and no one would advertise on BAJR.

However a campaign to start raising wages 2% above AAWI from April 2008, with a view to having PIFA wages hitting the target wage equivalent suggested above by 2010 would allow everyone to manage the increase to costs accordingly.

Does that sound like a useful campaign?
Oh yes, and a substantial overnight increase in the costs of the archaeology may encourage more developers to exploit the obvious loophole in the current regulations to avoid doing any archaeological work at all.(I won't spell it out on a public forum but I suspect that an increasing number of people are becoming wise to it...)
The key to both issues is the universality of the changes. There would be no need for RAOs to leave the scheme or companies to stop using BAJR for fear of being undercut, because no one would be undercutting them - it would be a level playing field (in terms of the wage rises anyway).

The same applies to developers - all developers would face the same increased cost for archaeology. As long as they realised that this was across the board and not just their particular contractor, they would have to accept it (and they would know that at the tendering stage). Furthermore, if developers were going to challenge PPG16, wouldn't they have done it already?

I agree though that it would require an act of will by RAOs, but it would be an act of will without risks attached. Time for the companies who are in the IFA to stand up for the good of the profession - and a means available for them to do it without suffering.
well it's avoiding ppg16 altogether rather than challenging it..

It's not just about a universality of change it is also managing the costs that such a change brings to develper and contracting unit ( being able to anticipate them and plan accordingly). A long term project which had a budget set before such a rapid change is going to find itself in difficulties - which is why I would favour a campaign or strategy with clear aims over the next four years with the tangible benefits by 2008 as I highlighted above.

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