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Prospect Archaeologists

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MOLA archaeologists vote for industrial action over pay

published on Prospect website on 04 Oct 2019 (link below)

Prospect members at Museum of London Archaeology have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action over pay and the failure of management to implement a pay structure.

MOLA executive managers imposed a 2.5% pay award in June even though it had been rejected by union members who have been suffering financial hardship due to low pay.

The dispute also concerns a pay structure that MOLA executive management promised would be in place by April 2019. The undertaking was made by management to settle an industrial dispute last year but they have reneged on their commitment. Had the pay structure been in place as promised then staff would have received an incremental rise in addition to a cost-of-living award.

Prospect is calling for MOLA senior management to reopen negotiations to improve the pay award and to discuss the urgent introduction of a pay system that will allow staff to progress through the pay scale for their role/grade.

Andy Bye, Prospect negotiator, said:

“MOLA is in crisis with experienced staff leaving and market share in London going to its main competitor which pays archaeologists £2k more per year.

“Executive managers have ignored the views of staff and the impact their pay policy and management style is having on MOLA as a whole. With this vote for industrial action, MOLA staff have said enough is enough. If management don’t start listening and paying a fair wage then it’s hard to see how MOLA can continue to operate competitively.”

Ballot result:

  • 78% voted in favour of strike action, 22% against.
  • 94% voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, 6% against.
  • Turnout was well over the legal threshold.


MOLA undertakes archaeological work on behalf of clients in London and further afield. MOLA has worked on schemes financed by the government and other clients, including Crossrail and HS2. MOLA has around 300 staff.

A recent report commissioned by the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO:UK) estimates archaeologists save the construction industry £1.3bn a year, and that commercial archaeology contributes £218m to the economy with 4,500 working in the sector. (Source: Rocks-Macqueen, D and Lewis, B, 2019 Archaeology in Development Management – its contribution in England, Scotland & Wales, Landward Research Ltd, July 2019.)

Published on Prospect website here.



CIfA, FAME and Prospect publish joint statement on Brexit's impacts on skills and migration

CIfA have published a joint statement with the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers, and Prospect Archaeologist's Branch which sets out the shared ambition to mitigate the impacts of Brexit on skills and migration in archaeology. The statement outlines a broad agreement between bodies and a commitment to working jointly through the Industry Working Group to discuss and agree approaches to advocacy on issues such as securing an appropriate post-Brexit visa system for migrant workers and protecting the rights of EU citizens already in working in UK archaeology.

The statement can be downloaded here.



Prospect Archaeologists’ Branch Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy

 Our E&D rep, Sadie Watson, has been working on a new strategy for the branch


1) To provide a supportive framework for members experiencing discrimination, harassment or bullying in relation to any of the protected characteristics (Equality Act 2010) or any other reason

2) To raise awareness of equality issues in collective bargaining

3) To help ensure equality and diversity policies are meaningful and implemented fully


Short term (within 6 months)

  • Publicise branch E&D strategy draft online and in print (Profile magazine Jan 2019)
  • Establish links with E&D reps in Heritage branch
  • Recruit at least 5 E&D reps from existing members, or from new joiners
  • Appoint reps specifically for LGBT+ and BAME representation
  • To request branches within recognised employers are provided facility time for Equality reps
  • E&D reps within recognised employers
  • Form E&D reps’ network within branch to act on specific challenges (see below)
  • Raise awareness of Whistleblowing policies (where they exist) and protection they offer


Medium term (within 12 months)

  • Archaeologist Branch attendance at national LGBT+ and BAME Conferences
  • The E&D reps to work within employers to ensure Objectives 2 and 3 are prioritised
  • Organise event as part of wider one day Conference


Specific Challenges:

  • Workplace Equality policies checked, renewed if necessary
  • Harassment, Bullying, Discrimination policies and procedures checked, renewed if necessary
  • Specific Sexual Harassment policies to be introduced if necessary
  • Codes of Conduct established – to include 3rd party buy-in
  • Unconscious bias training across recognised employers
  • Diverse interview panels as matter of course


MOLA London Industrial Action Ballot Authorised

 Update: December 2018. Members were balloted on a new pay offer and voted to accept. Many thanks for all your support!

Pay discussion between MOLA and Prospect have been ongoing since April. Last week London members rejected the latest pay offer from MOLA and the employer rejected Prospect's call for further negotiations.  Yesterday Prospect's National Executive Committee gave formal authorisation for an industrial action ballot of relevant London members.


You will remember that MOLA's London Prospect members voted in an indicative ballot for industrial action. On a turnout of 82.2%, 4.1% voted for no action, 18.6% for industrial action short of a strike and 77.3% for industrial action up to and including strike action.


In the face of MOLA’s refusal to enter into further negotiations, this 77.3% majority vote empowered us to seek authorisation for an industrial action ballot from the Prospect NEC.

Prospect’s arguments and concerns are:

  • The eroding pay differential between London and Northampton staff caused by the higher increases being paid in Northampton.
  • Fears that MOLA London pay rates for archaeologists will not adequately reward their skills and knowledge or be enough for staff to afford to live in the capital.
  • The pay offer did not fully address the problem of the small pay differential between archaeologists and senior archaeologists. In particular, there is little incentive for assistant supervisors to become senior archaeologists when the increase in pay is so small compared to the increase in responsibility.

Time line to date:

      •  April/May 2018 - Initial pay discussion between MOLA and Prospect
      • June - Prospect balloted members to accept/reject offer - 71.4% turnout with 87.1% voting to reject. Pay award imposed by MOLA
      • July - Prospect organised a petition to re-open negotiations, ran 13th – 19th, signed by 197 people, negotiations re-opened by MOLA & members voted to progress with indicative ballot
      • Indicative ballot - ran 31st July – 15th August, 82.2% turnout, 4.1% voted for no action, 18.6% for industrial action short of a strike and 77.3% for industrial action up to and including strike action
      • August/September - MOLA returned with a further pay offer, members’ meeting rejected the revised offer and instructed their representatives to seek further negotiations with MOLA and authorisation for an industrial action ballot
      • September - MOLA rejects call for further negotiations and NEC authorises an industrial action ballot


Prospect remains open to further discussions with MOLA based around an improved and consolidated offer for London staff. The branch and members hope that MOLA will reconsider its position on further negotiations.


As a branch we are encouraging as many people as possible to join Prospect in the coming weeks. Although only those employed on MOLA London pay bands are covered by this action, it would be great to have the support of as many members as possible.


Prospect is also encouraging all members to check that the their contact and employer details, held by the union headquarters, are correct. Members should go online to check that Prospect holds your correct postal address and details of your current employer (to do so log in to the members’ area of the Prospect website at

MOLA London Members will receive communications about how the ballot will proceed in due course.



  Prospect Archaeologists branch AGM

Jan 2018

The AGM was held on 27 January 2018 at 1.30pm in the George Fox Room, Friends House, London

In attendance was Andy Bye, Anthony Francis, John Joyce, Louise Staniforth and 21 archaeologists from organisations including Wessex, MOLA, Oxford, ASE, AOC, PCA, ADAS, CIFA & freelance. Regionally - South East, Midlands, North East and Scotland.

New committee members were voted in by AGM:

Anthony Francis – Branch Chair

John Joyce – Membership Secretary

Jessica Bryan – Branch Secretary

A brief summary of the issues covered is below, the full minutes can be found here.


Current and future projects include A14, EA1 and HS2. These large scale projects create challenges within the industry including staff shortages, pay, training and H&S. 

Organisation and communication

The branch needs to change the way it is organised and communicates with members to enable more effective use of time and recourses, especially with the large scale infrastructure projects which often pose logistical issues.

Carillion collapse

So far, the direct financial impact of the recent Carillion collapse in the sector is believed to have been relatively minimal.

Motions for consideration by the AGM

A motion was suggested by Oxford Archaeology to seek information about 'no poaching' agreements. These are often unwritten agreements to not actively headhunt staff from other companies working on the same project. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is leading to the practice in some companies, or by individuals in some companies, of not accepting applications from archaeologists.

The motion was passed by the AGM

Recruitment update

Membership numbers: Jan 2017 444 members, Jan 2018 525 members. 18% increase in 1 year.


 Prospect Archaeologists and Brexit

August 2017

There has been a lot of concern and uncertainty about the future of the UK when it leaves the EU – particularly for non-UK nationals.

 Non-UK nationals play a vital role in the UK economy in general and within the archaeological industry. Prospect is committed to protecting individual rights at work and to providing a coherent and influential voice on the future of members' industries and sectors, including the Heritage sector. So far the union has lobbied ministers, raised issues with the Trades Union Congress and met many branches to discuss the issues affecting their area.

 The union has produced information about Brexit for members, including videos and blogs, that are available here The subjects include EU citizens’ rights, highlighting worrying gaps in the government’s proposals, and why politicians must protect our high-skilled EU migrants after Brexit.

 Prospect’s 2016 national conference carried a resolution calling on the union to:

  •  Campaign against blunt-tool anti-immigration policies,
  •  Campaign for better understanding of the need for qualified specialists from outside the UK, and
  •  Investigate and publicise the potential impact of a Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)  review, which had suggested extending the scope of the £30,000 Tier 2 threshold for entry.

 Prospect has been working to highlight:

  •  The limited protections of permanent residency for members who need to spend periods of time working in other countries; and
  • The importance of a Tier 2 salary threshold (or whatever arrangement might succeed this) being set at a level that does not exclude Prospect specialists, especially those that have been caught by public sector pay restraint.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is an independent, non-statutory, non-time limited, non-departmental public body that advises the government on migration issues. Sponsored by the Home Office, MAC provides advice to the government. Its website is here: . In July 2017, the government commissioned MAC to advise on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the European Union and also on how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy.

 MAC is undertaking a consultation that will inform its advice to the government. Prospect is taking part in this consultation and a number of arcaheolgoical companies have been asked by Prospect to help with a number of questions, these include:

  •  Data on the number and proportion of non-UK nationals employed in the archaeology industry. Prospect wants to demonstrate that this is not a marginal issue but one of significant importance;
  •  Information about the numbers of skilled / specialist staff at or below certain salary thresholds, especially £30,000;
  •  Examples of the work done by staff who would be caught at these thresholds, illustrating the potential loss to the UK economy and the archaeology industry.


 Aches, strains & pains survey 2016

July 2017

The results are in! You can download the results here.

All the information from the questionnaire has been collated and some initial conclusions have been drawn: 

  • More than half the people indicated their working conditions were less than ideal, with nearly 70% of people working in uncomfortable postures.
  • A large number of people had experienced medical conditions or discomfort. Only 7.9% said they experienced nothing, a very low number. It is not clear if these are specifically job related or pre-existing conditions.
  • Almost half those who filled in the questionnaire have been injured by hand tools, closely followed by slips and trips. 
  • Roughly half the people had experienced MSD, again with almost half taking time off work, and over half seeking medical help. Unfortunately the questionnaire does not show if the MSD conditions were a result of work place injuries.
  • A large number of people had to change roles because of MSD, although some not permanently.
  • 16% of people did not feel confident in reporting an accident, which is 16% too high. It would be interesting to find out why.
  • Not all individuals take measures to ensure a safe and comfortable working environment. However particularly alarming is that people do not use PPE correctly, report accidents or report ill health. 
  • It appears that equally employers do not follow good practice, and in some cases the law. PPE is a legal requirement however only 88% of employers provide it; although it would be interesting to see how many of those who answered are employees, and how many are self-employed. A very small percentage of employers seem to provide occupational health, although it would be interesting to ask employers, as it may be the case they do not advertise it well enough.
  • The rotation of tasks, managing pace of work and mechanising tasks also seems to occur too infrequently. 

Initially it is clear that some employers and employees need more information about their rights and responsibilities. Additionally further investigation needs to be done into working practices within archaeology to see if and where changes can be made. It is far too common that people are being injured.

Ultimately everyone is in charge of H&S, if its not safe do not do it. Provide your supervisor or employer with reasoned evidence based arguments why something is not safe and they have to listen.


 Increase in working hours

May 2017

With the increase in daylight hours staff could be asked to work longer on site. A flyer was distributed to sites to highlight your rights in regards to the Working Time Regulations. A copy of this flyer can be downloaded here


 Proposed changes to the CITB CSCS cards

October 2016

A joint statement has been issued from Prospect and the Diggers Forum on the proposed changes to the CSCS card system, and the potential impact to archaeologists. The statement has been emailed to members, and can be download here.


Neighbourhood and Infrastructure Bill 2017

July 2016

Prospect has responded to the  Government’s proposed Neighbourhood and Infrastructure Bill. This reposnse has been emailed to members, and can be download here.

Prospect and HS2

HS2 is a large infrastructure project in the UK requiring large numbers of archaeologists. The route is divided into three sections, south, central and north, and within each are packages of archaeological work. It is highly likely many different archaeological companies will be working side by side; either on the same sites or neighboring sites. The Prospect Archaeologists branch is recognised and has members in a number of these companies and as such is perfectly placed to help coordinate and advise.

In May 2016 Sarah Ward and Anthony Francis met with TUC to introduce themselves and Prospect. The meeting came about because of the HS2 Framework Agreement that had just been signed. This document is worth reading as there are parts of it that are relevant to Prospect organising in archaeology (link below).

 Under the Agreement, a committee will be formed that will be chaired by the CEO of HS2 and also include TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady and representatives from unions RMT, UNITE, ASLEF, GMB, TSSA and UCATT. The committee is expected to meet four times a year during the initial phase of the project and twice a year thereafter. 

In April 2018 Andy Bye and Antony Francis met with a TUC representative to discuss how Prospect could feed into the committee. Prospect would not have a seat on the committee, but would be able to pass items onto the committee for discussion.

 The Agreement and the committee are important as they provide a formal mechanism we can use if we encounter problems on HS2 in recruiting or organising archaeologists. The simple fact that this mechanism exists is likely to concentrate the minds of archaeological employers, whether they recognise Prospect or not.


Here are some snippets from the Agreement:


·         ‘This Framework Agreement describes the Partners’ shared purpose, and their values for effective joint working and will … provide a high-level mechanism to discuss strategic issues including (but not limited to) employment (including local labour clauses, standards indirect employment); union access; high-quality apprenticeships; staff training and development; equality, diversity and inclusion; and health, safety and wellbeing … [and] monitor and assist in the resolution of issues that may arise in relation to the work package agreements’


·         The Partners share ‘a belief that HS2 Ltd should ensure that those contractors and suppliers with which it engages promote good practice in all areas of staff management, including equality, diversity, inclusion for all and workers’ rights to freedom of association’


·         There is a commitment ‘from HS2 Ltd to ensure that access by trade unions for them to carry out their legitimate roles is made an integral part of all subsequent work package agreements. HS2 Ltd will commit to proactively encourage its suppliers to recognise the value of working in partnership with trade unions, including promoting the development of recognition agreements, access and facilities where appropriate’


·         ‘Additionally, this Agreement establishes that subsequent work package agreements will include … that suppliers work constructively with trade unions party to this agreement, acknowledging their legitimate role in employee relations’.