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French researchers march for cash

Published on 19/03/2004

PARIS, March 19 (AFP) - Thousands of French public sector research scientists marched through Paris on Friday, pursuing a campaign for government funds to stop a brain drain to the US and elsewhere.

Alongside pictures of Jean-Francois Champollion, who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics, and the discoverer of radium Marie Curie – two scientists who “stayed in France” – protesters carried photographs of young modern-day researchers “expatriated in the USA.”

The demonstration, mirrored by smaller displays of force in other cities, came 10 days after some 2,000 laboratory directors stepped down from their administrative functions to protest against the centre-right government’s policies on science.

The movement is led by the collective “Let Us Save Research,” which in January launched a petition that has now been signed by more than 60,000 of France’s 105,000 state-paid researchers.

Protesters are demanding that 550 jobs that were classified as temporary in this year’s budget be re-instated as full-time posts, as well as a national enquiry into the future of research.

Raffarin has unfrozen blocked credits and promised a new budget line of
EUR 3 billion (USD 3.7 billion) by 2007, in line with a promise by Presient Jacques Chirac to increase spending to three percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

According to figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), France spends around 2.2 percent of GDP on research and development, ahead of Britain and the European Union average, but behind the US, Japan, Korea and Germany.

The researchers’ protests come during campaigning for regional elections in France, which take place over two rounds on Sundays March 21 and 28.


                                                              Subject: France news