Call to all scientific workers’ organizations

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Let us prepare together in all countries a “World Day against the precariousness of scientific workers and in favour of a scientific research at the service of people”.

This action should occur by the end of 2016.

The main motivations for this action stand out:

In most countries, precariousness of research staff, including youth and women, is widespread and increasing. This is resulting in:

  • The deterioration of wages, employment and living conditions for scientific workers;

  • The discouragement and abandonment of scientific careers and the discredit of the scientific professions by the public;

  • There is a close link between the increasing precariousness of scientific employment and the decline in the quality of scientific research.

Furthermore, following the recommendations of international organizations, such as the OECD, many countries are converging in their restructuring policies of Research and Higher Education, leading to:

  • Development of a private and bureaucratic type of management, in scientific organizations, by directions or external appointed bodies;

  • A general decrease in the investment in science, namely in equipment, infrastructures and human resources;

  • Increase in short-term projects and research, focused on limited objectives;

  • Research steering by funding projects and external partners, reducing the autonomy of researchers and increasing restrictions to academic freedom.

Combined, these policy choices are resulting in the rise of uncertainty of scientific careers, affecting the quality of research. Many research objectives, including at fundamental level, are neglected in favour of a few priority research areas, through biased funding, promoting science with profitable outcomes (in terms of the financial value and potential commercial exploitation of scientific results). Labour relations are hardening and competition under the guise of “Excellence” is spreading in laboratories, with negative consequences for scientific research.

Therefore, it becomes necessary to unite scientists and scientific organizations on a collective public alert focusing the consequences of this situation for research and society. Scientists also have the duty to propose alternative research policies to provide for the cultural and material needs of mankind.

We are careful not to isolate scientists from other workers, also suffering dramatic precariousness. Hence, the convergence of actions is desirable, especially during this World Day. Actions should aim at fighting precariousness in general (increased income and job stability, social guarantees, new rights, etc.), but also to address objectives of research:

* In basic research, to respond to the demand for knowledge and cultural development, ensuring the respect for academic freedom;

* In applied research, to improve all human activities within a framework of sustainable and peaceful development;

* To promote cooperation and democracy in society and therefore in research, assuming that scientists can be involved in all decisions concerning them;

* To promote science and critical thinking in society.

The mobilization around the aforementioned objectives, namely against precariousness, has already lead to the creation of organizations of young scientists in countries like Spain, Portugal and France. In recent years, the intervention of such organizations has gained public notoriety at national and international level.

World Day could also allow the promotion of the UNESCO 1974 Recommendation, concerning the Status of Scientific Researchers, and its required update.

Act in each country:

We propose to arrange the conditions for a broader expression of this World Day, which could be held during the last months of 2016.

The mobilization of WFSW affiliates is evident. It is up to them, in full cooperation with scientists and organizations in their countries, to decide slogans, forms of organization and initiatives for the World day.

On this occasion, scientific delegations could be synchronized with national, regional and global institutions, such as governments, the European Commission and UNESCO.

The WFSW and her decision-making bodies will strive to promote the objectives of this World Day, relay all preparations and related expressions of opinion.

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