The researchers left their resignation letters at the research ministry in Paris following a demonstration attended by thousands of scientists at the Town Hall. The demonstrators included directors of research and team leaders at a number of France’s top laboratories, including several physics labs.

The scientists say that research in France is facing a financial crisis because the government has cancelled, frozen or withheld public funds over the last two years. This has led to the loss of 550 permanent junior research positions this year and has resulted in a number of projects being put on hold.

In response to the petition, research minister, Claudie Haigneré has said that the research budget would rise by 3.9% this year. However, researchers are unconvinced and want to see more “concrete” actions. In particular, they would like the 550 research posts to be re-established. The scientists have given the government until March 19 to meet their demands or they threaten to organize another, bigger, demonstration.