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Saturday 30 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Sam Boal/ The work stoppage outside the site on Aungier Street in Dublin.
# digging in
'A poorly-paid job in horrendous conditions': Archaeologists' strikes to continue as they demand better wages
The union has disputed the claim of a 65% increase in wages in the last four years, as its members’ contracts currently stipulate an hourly wage of €12.50.

WORK STOPPAGES BY archaeologists at building sites across the country are to continue as the Unite trade union pushes for an improvement in pay for these workers. 

The union has accused the Irish Archaeological Consultancy (IAC) of paying “poverty wages” to workers and a number of strike days have taken place in Dublin and in Cork since the dispute began.

On Thursday archaeologists at a site in Portmarnock staged the latest day of industrial action, engaging in a 24-hour stoppage.

Unite has called on the IAC to attend the Workplace Relations Commission and negotiate collectively with its employees on pay. 

The IAC, which employs a number of core staff archaeologists as well as field archaeologists for specific projects, has said it increased wages by over 65% in the last four years.

With respect to pay, IAC has consistently made efforts to improve our staff’s pay and conditions in response to the recovery in demand for archaeological services and line with what the company can afford. 

It also said it deals directly with staff on contractual matters. 

The union has disputed the claim of a 65% increase in wages, as its members’ contracts currently stipulate an hourly wage of €12.50.

“The plan is to keep doing what we’re doing until such time as they’re willing to engage,” Jean O’Dowd, Unite Archaeology Branch chair told She said this would include further work stoppages at IAC sites.

“I don’t think people realise – when you tell people you’re an archaeologist they say “oh wow, great job”. People just presume, they don’t know that it’s really badly paid, you’re out there in this weather.

The Portmarnock crowd are finishing today and they only found that out last week, so they had a week’s notice to find a new job. That’s constant and that’s not taken into consideration in pay.

“It’s an extremely hard job, always short-term contracts in horrendous conditions. It’s a very physical job, back and knee injuries are common and there are no benefits like medical or pensions,” she said.

Although she said work had picked up for archaeologists now that building has started up again in Ireland, she said there is a lot of uncertainty in the job.

“The crews in Portmarnock, the five of them finish at 4pm today and they have no job after that even though they’ve been looking for a week. So it’s not a matter of finishing in one site on Friday and starting in another on Monday, even though things are busy again now.”

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