The Industry Working Group (IWG) was formed in 2013 to bring together FAME, as trade association for the sector, Prospect as the main trade union representing archaeologists and CIfA as the professional body. Its purpose was to coordinate the programmes of work in all three organisations to deliver improvements in the working and business environment for the profession.
CIfA regrets FAME’s withdrawal from the IWG FAME statement on setting sector wages and withdrawal from the IWG (famearchaeology.co.uk). As a forum for knowledge-sharing and collaboration, the IWG has brought together valuable perspectives from across the sector to address issues which included the impact of low pay on the sector’s ability to recruit, retain and motivate archaeologists. The IWG has also discussed equality, diversity and inclusion, bullying and harassment, the impact of Brexit and skills shortages and health, safety and wellbeing.
In 2020, collaboration between the three organisations, plus those supporting the IWG as observers, facilitated the circulation of timely and expert advice on safe working systems in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, effectively allowing the sector to keep working.
We understand that FAME is acting in accordance with the discussions it has held with legal advisors, although we dispute the premise that the purpose of the IWG was to ‘fix’ or to ‘coordinate’ the wages paid by individual employers. Rather, the IWG’s goal was to find solutions to the impact of low pay and poor working conditions which make archaeology a less attractive career than it should be. CIfA and Prospect are committed to working together, and with other sector partners, to seek the improvements set out in the IWG’s terms of reference and will look for ways to ensure that we can benefit from the perspective of sector employers and businesses. CIfA and Prospect will also continue to discuss possible mechanisms for issuing recommendations on minimum salary levels in the industry.
We continue to believe that there is a need for open and constructive dialogue on the issues that face our sector and for a forum (or fora) to facilitate that and will seek to engage FAME in the future on how that might be achieved.