Tough economic times are squeezing university budgets in Europe, creating tension between sceintists and their governments.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is unhappy with French scientists. In a recent speech
Sarkozy lambasted the [French] research system as “infantilizing and paralyzing,” argued that French scientists aren’t productive enough, and announced that after decades of failed attempts at change, radical reforms are now his government’s top priority. “The forces of conservatism and immobilism have always triumphed,” he said, “and that has to stop.”
French scientists responded predictably. “Incensed by a provocative policy speech … France’s researchers’ unions have threatened to go on strike indefinitely starting 2 February. Despite the warning, the government says it plans to forge ahead with the science and higher education reforms that have led to this war of wills.”
Because what better way is there to convince people that researchers are really “productive enough,” and not committed to “immobilism,” than to go on strike?
But those French scientists better watch out. “In a move that has drawn international protests, Leiden University in the Netherlands has responded to governmental budget cuts by firing a group of tenured evolutionary biology researchers.” I bet Sarkozy could bring in some Dutch scabs to take over for striking French scientists.