More than 2000 research directors handed in their resignations to the French science minister yesterday afternoon (March 9) in protest over the declining state of research in the country. Following weeks of protests, the decision to go ahead with the threat of a mass resignation was made despite recent government attempts at appeasement.

Reduced funding, job losses and other cost-cutting moves have shocked members of what was traditionally one of Europe's most cosseted scientific communities.

The pressure they have put on the government garnered a response two weeks ago, when Claudine Haigneré, minister of science, vowed that the government would repay its 300 million euro debt from the 2002 budget to research institutes, and reinstate 120 posts. And last week, prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin announced the government would invest an additional 3 billion euros in research by 2007.

But the scientists remained unimpressed even by this latest offer. They...

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