University community in France mobilizes against proposed research law

The new multi-annual research programming law (LPPR) proposed by the French government calls for converting permanent researcher posts to contract vacancies based on the tenure of research projectsMarch 09, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch

France researchers protest

Tens of thousands joined the national mobilization of researchers against LPPR on March 5. (Photo: Open University)

Researchers in France have initiated a massive protest against the new multi-annual research programming law (LPPR) proposed by the French government. The national coordination of “faculties and labs in struggle” started a research strike from March 9, Monday. More than 100 universities and schools, nearly 300 laboratories and 145 scientific journals in the humanities and social sciences have expressed support for the protests called by the national coordination committee of researchers. 

LPPR calls for the conversion of research vacancies in the country into limited period posts based on the tenure of projects carried out by research institutions. Such a move is likely to affect those who work in regular posts and has also created widespread discontent among tens of thousands of researchers and students who currently work in contract/ temporary vacancies, for whom there will be no possibility of regular/permanent jobs in the future.

On March 5, tens of thousands of researchers had joined the mobilization against the LPPR across the country, with over 20,000 people participating in the protest in Paris alone.

The ministerial consultations for the new law, announced by French prime minister Édouard Philippe last year, have reportedly concluded and the draft is expected to be introduced by government soon. 

Secretary of the Union of the Communist Students (UEC) Anais Fley told Peoples Dispatch, “The LPPR (Multi-annual research programming law) is a bill that aims to reform the university in the same neoliberal approach. If this bill is adopted, it will deepen inequalities at university, increase competition between researchers and degrade the working conditions of the teacher-researchers as well as the students.”

“One of the main pivots of this law is to transform research contracts on the basis of projects, without further funding public research, or allowing these projects to be structured over the long term. The consequence of this bill is to make public research even more precarious,” she added.

Fley also said that faced with this social and scientific regression, the French university community is mobilizing, with university staff, doctoral students and professors on the front line. “Of course, this mobilization resonates with the strikes against the pension reform,” she further stated.