The Section of Architectural Workers union has called out new RIBA president Muyiwa Oki for appearing to backtrack on his campaign pledge to mandate paid overtime.
A spokesperson for the Section of Architectural Workers (SAW) told Dezeen that it was “disappointed” that Oki seemingly backtracked on some of his policies including mandating paid overtime for RIBA-chartered practices in a recent interview.
“Explicit abandonment of his commitment to mandate paid overtime”
Muyiwa Oki’s election as RIBA president marked a historic moment that has unfortunately been undercut by an immediate U-turn on his campaign commitment to end unpaid overtime,” said a spokesperson for SAW.
“In an interview marking his appointment, Muyiwa departed from some of these specific policies towards broad platitudes,” they continued.
“Most concerning was the explicit abandonment of his commitment to mandate paid overtime – something SAW says is a key reason their members backed the candidate.”
Oki, who officially became president earlier this month, is the youngest-ever and first Black president of RIBA. He was elected following a grassroots campaign led by groups including SAW and Future Architects Front (FAF).
“SAW views this as an immediate capitulation”
However, the union believes that in an interview with Building Design, Oki seemed to backtrack on the pledges his campaign was based on. They believe this is due to internal pressure within RIBA.
“Muyiwa now states his goal is to ‘shine a light on and guide practices on best behaviours’,” said the SAW spokesperson. “His vision statement further reduces the meaningful demand of paid overtime into ‘improving employment well-being in our profession’,” they continued.
“SAW views this as an immediate capitulation by Muyiwa, the result of an inside campaign within RIBA to discredit the feasibility of these changes.”
While the union acknowledged that mandating paid overtime is a complex task, it is concerned that the campaign pledges are already being eroded.
“To make a lasting impact during his presidency, Muyiwa must, at a minimum, keep the issue of overtime at the forefront of RIBA’s agenda, or risk his tenure becoming defined by mere symbolic gestures,” SAW said.
Speaking to Dezeen in an interview to mark the beginning of his tenure, Oki told Dezeen that grassroots organisations will “be holding me to account”.