BUENOS AIRES – Argentine scientists and researchers demonstrated on Monday at the Science and Technology Ministry to protest a program of salary cuts that, they complained, Minister Lino Barañao intends to implement.
The protest comes after an agreement reached between some 500 researchers and the ministry in 2016, when the government reduced the department’s budget by 10 percent, forcing it to cut the Conicet national research council’s staff by 60 percent, or some 500 people.
After a tense verbal conflict, Barañao agreed with the researchers that their grants and salaries would not be affected by the cuts.
However, the scholars and lecturers supposedly protected under the accord complained nine months later that it had not been adhered to and accused the government of offering them working conditions that have reduced their salaries by more than 30 percent compared to what they enjoyed when they were career researchers.
“They’re offering us a salary reduction of 30 percent – between 7,000 and 10,000 pesos ($405 – $578). To that is being added a work situation that is completely unstable,” said Guido Giorgi, one of the affected post-doctoral scholarship holders.
He said that he and his colleagues have been fighting for a year to get the government to keep its promise, but they have had no results so far, leaving them in a difficult position in terms of continuing with their scientific work, which requires them to plan for the short and medium terms.
So, this week, those affected by this situation, with the support of social organizations, took over the Conicet headquarters, in the capital’s Palermo neighborhood, to demand a face-to-face meeting with the minister, whom they accuse of remaining passive during the controversy and bowing to the interests of Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
“We’re asking Minister Barañao to give a sign that he’s going to reopen negotiations and that we’re going to be able to discuss the working conditions. What he’s planning goes against what he himself signed in December,” said Lucia Maffey, with the Young Disadvantaged Scientists movement during the protest at Conicet.