Angry researchers: what does the threat of an administrative strike mean in the universities?

Gatherings in front of the Sorbonne or the University of Paris Diderot, throwing of copies at the University of Grenoble Alpes and Lille 2, leaflets and banners in Toulouse against the precariousness of academics and organization of conferences … Research professors, lecturers and other professors universities no longer know what to invent to alert the government to the catastrophic state of French research and its agents. An increase in salaries was promised by Frédérique Vidal, the Minister of Higher Education. 92 million euros will be devoted to this in 2021. And a multiannual programming law for research (LPPR) is being drawn up. It must be presented to the EESC in early April for opinion. But already, the leaking elements raise fears of arbitration against them – insufficient amount of the overall investment, new hybrid hiring contracts and financing by call for projects ever more exclusive …

Administrative resignation

Today, a collective of 800 academics has therefore chosen to take a pen in The world to threaten to resign from their administrative functions. Like hundreds of hospital doctors recently, researchers have therefore found this action to be heard. What does it consist of? “The entire functioning of the university system is based on good will, with many administrative tasks which are not our core business, rarely paid and even counterproductive for advancement”, explains Franck Loureiro, Deputy Secretary General of the Federation of Sgen-CFDT, reformist union which has been campaigning for this LPPR for a long time.

For the time being, it is not a question of abandoning their high-sounding titles, such as presidencies or vice-presidencies, which entitle them to fine allowances. But training or departmental responsibilities, very demanding and low-paying. Franck Loureiro gives his example: “I am responsible for a Master in MEEF, with 100 students and up to fifty teachers to coordinate because of each other’s absences. I manage the schedules, the organization teams, the animation of the examination jury, the arrival of external personalities… A colossal job that does not stop until July 22! ” For all of his work, this researcher in educational sciences will obtain a 12-hour hourly discharge or a check for 500 euros net… annually! “So far,” he admits, “I haven’t seen anyone return their desk and photocopier code…”

Researchers are radicalizing too

As for the multitude of tasks more or less thankless and totally free, the strike has indeed started. The organization of selection committees or juries, the sorting of baccalaureate candidates in Parcoursup; tutoring students in difficulty; or participation in the many educational meetings that are organized every semester to adjust the programs and align the disciplines… All of this takes a lot of time, 30% of working time according to the trade unionist, and does not give rise to any remuneration!

However, it is as much time that is not devoted to research or to a publication, which remain the criterion of advancement. Stopping these administrative tasks could obviously undermine the entire university system. The threat is serious and denotes a clear hardening of the protest movement. Before even more frank radicalization? Parcoursup, continuous and partial control exams, etc. are all the levers targeted by the most returnees. We saw it in National Education with the boycott of the baccalaureate.