MOLA archaeologists vote for industrial action over pay

4 October 2019

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.)