French researchers put pressure on the government
Mar 10, 2004
Over 2000 French researchers quit their administrative posts yesterday as a protest against the government’s science policies. The action was threatened in an Internet petition that has received more than 67 000 signatures over the past two months. The move is largely symbolic – the researchers will continue to do research – but it could still bring labs across the country to a standstill.
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.
About the author
Belle Dumé is Science Writer at PhysicsWeb