For the archaeologists

1. The law and preventive archaeology in France

Preventive archaeology in France is regulated by the law passed on the 17th January 2001 and modified in 2004 (n° 2001-44 : : NOR:MCCX9900003L)

All developers whether private individuals or organisations must declare their building projects to the relevant authorities. A charge (about 0,38€ per m2) is levied on most projects and is paid into a fund called the FNAP. Two thirds of the money collected is used to finance field evaluations and the reports thereon, the other third is used to help or subsidise developers to finance full excavation. The state regional archaeology service decides, on the basis of the evaluation report whether there an excavation is warranted. There are 24 regional services in which work 350 civil servants who act as curators. The developer decides whether to abandon his project or pay for the excavation. In the latter case he can call upon a licensed contractor.

The preventive archaeology charge is supposed to provide 80 million € per year but the actual amount collected falls well short of this. The shortfall is met by the Ministry of Culture. Only local authorities (acting as contractors) or Inrap can receive money from the FNAP to do field evaluations. The local authorities employ about 400 archaeologists and ancillary staff while INRAP (Institut national de recherches archéologiques preventives) has 1800 employees. Ninety per cent of field evaluations are carried out by Inrap. Positive evaluations do not lead inevitably to full excavation. In fact the 3000 evaluations (positive and negative) are followed by 200 to 300 excavations. The total cost of excavations is about 70 Millions € per years of which about 66 million€ is goes to INRAP A considerable number of developers is exempt from both the preventive archaeology charge and from paying for excavations, however INRAP has public service obligations and can be required to undertake such operations even though there is no corresponding revenue. The poor collection of the charge, the deficit financing of free evaluations given that there are numerous exemptions mean that the money available is insufficient to deal with the archaeological workload and hence to properly distribute the money according to need and research priorities.

II – L’INRAP (Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives) pay and conditions

Inrap ( ) is the largest French archaeological organisation and one of the most dynamic in Europe. A public research establishment, operating under the authority of the French Ministries of Culture and Research, it carries out most of the archaeological evaluations and excavations in France. It now has about 1800 full-time employees of which about 1500 are archaeologists, the rest being administrative, managerial and support staff. A smaller number of its employees have short term contracts.

The terms of conditions of which apply to INRAP employees are those which underpin the entire French Civil Service and, in addition, a specific legislative instrument (Décret n° 2002-450 – 2 avril 2002 : : NOR:MCCB0200119D) which guarantees the research status of their employment as well as a clearly defined pay scale which take into account educational qualifications and experience.

There are five grades. The monthly salaries before tax are as follows (beginning and end of career)

1. Technical assistant (baccalauréat or A levels not required) 1682 € to 2924 € after 24 years service

2. Technician (A levels required) 1345 € to2505 € after 27 years service

3. Research assistant (Two years university study required) 1682 € to 2924 € after 29 years service

4 Researcher (Degree required) 1772 € to3445 € after 29 years service

5 Senior researcher (Doctorate required) 1938 € to 3688 after 30 years service

.Allowances for those who exercise responsibilities beyond their pay grade or for working far from home are paid to employees in addition to their monthly pay.

Today there are no Technical Assistants. Thirty-six per cent of the workforce are Technicians, thirty-five per cent are Research Assistants, twenty-one per cent are Researchers and eight per cent are Senior Researchers.

Full time employees are usually recruited after passing before a recruitment board. Short term contracts are given our by the employer as he sees fit.

The working day is 8 hours long. There are 30 days paid holiday per year and 20 days recovery of overtime (the working week is 39 hours long, the legal maximum is 35 hours). In addition, 2 days are offered by the Ministry of Culture and there are 8 bank holidays. A daily allowance (15 euros per meal, 45 euros per night and 0.21 euros per kilometre for those using their cars) is paid to those working in districts outside that in which is their archaeological centre is to be found.

The personnel is represented on three councils within INRAP. The first concerns work organisation. The second concerns Health and Safety. The third ensures that the rights of the staff are respected. There are also representatives on the main Board and also on the research board.

The personnel choose which union will represent them on the various committees. The participation is about 60%. Of those voting, 46% vote CGT (Confédération Général du Travail), 28% vote for SUD (Solidaires Unitaires et Démocratiques), 8% for the CFDT (Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail) and 7% for the FSU (Fédération Syndicale Unitaire).

III A brief history of trade unionism in preventive archaeology in France

INRAP and the 2001 law which created it are the fruit of a combat which has been underway since 1984. Strikes, demonstrations and petitions organised by the archaeologists union the SGPA-CGT together with the other trades unions to the creation of a public service archaeology organisation. INRAP and its personnel come directly from an arms length government agency called AFAN (Association pour les Fouilles Archéologiques Nationales).

AFAN was set up by the government in 1972, initially to pay for basic excavation equipment. From 1983, AFAN was used by the Ministry of Culture to recruit civil servants on short term contracts and to receive payments from developers to pay for other employees. In the 1990s AFAN had more than a thousand employees all of them on short term contracts (usually for 2 to 6 month periods).

The creation of Union branches, particularly by the CGT, has led to the strong unionisation of the workforce and to the creating of full-time contracts (90% of all employees had them in 1999). To finance preventive archaeology, the system whereby the polluter pays was put in place. In 2001, AFAN became INRAP, financed by this obligatory charge, became a public research institute employing full-time civil servants.

Since 2003 the legal and financial context in which preventive archaeology functions has deteriorated. The government is trying to reduce the cost of excavations to developers through competitive tendering so as to reduce both time and personnel. It is also trying to artificially reduce the number of excavations. As a consequence the number of excavations annually has halved since 2002 (there were about 300 excavations in 2005)

Since competitive tendering was introduced, the unions have noticed attempts by private companies to worsen employment conditions. The objectives of the CGT archaeology union is to return to a public archaeology charge, based on the size of the development. The money in gathered will be used to finance excavation budgets based upon research objectives. Public service archaeology depends on a close collaboration between municipal and government officers. The CGT will act to defend archaeologist against the effects of competitive tendering through the fight for equal pay and equal rights.

IV – The SGPA CGT-Culture : Syndicat Général des Personnels de l’Archéologie Préventive

The SGPA-CGT Culture is the archaeological union of the CGT confederation. The CGT (Confederation is affiliated to the Confédération Européenne des Syndicats (CES).

Le SGPA CGT-Culture

( has 19 regional branches (Nord Pas-de-Calais, Picardy, Normandy, Centre, Ile de France, Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine, Alsace, Burgundy, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrénées, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and the Headquarters in Paris). All those who work in public service archaeology (archaeologists, administrative staff) are all welcome to join this union.

Contact SGPA CGT-Culture :

email :

fax en France : + 33 1 40 15 51 77

tel en France : + 33 1 40 15 51 86

For the latest information about the rights of archaeologists and about union activity you can go to the CGT-Culture web site : then « Sections et Syndicats » then the heading « SGPA CGT ».