Latvia: Scientists protest over delayed research programmes

Researchers in Latvian have protested after state-managed programmes were delayed for more than a year. These programmes are a major source of income for scientists in the state research institutions. Each project within a programme is awarded via a tender procedure. In 2014, some 28 research teams submitted proposals.

The delays led to a number of scientists who had planned to work on the projects being made redundant, or forced to take extended unpaid holidays. The scientists involved blamed the Ministry of Education and Science, which finances much of the state-managed research programme, for the delays.

The Latvian Science Council, an organisation responsible for science strategy and funding, and the Latvian Academy of Sciences (LZA), together represent more than 300 scientists. They accused the Ministry of Education and Science of violating the normal regulations of competition for 10 state research programmes, amid lobbying by two unsuccessful projects in the tender competition.

Without funds for salaries, research institutions were forced to make researchers redundant or agree long-term non-paid holidays.

Eventually extra projects were added on the basis of a special regulation adopted long after the competition had been held.

The Latvian Trade Union of Education and Science Employees (LIZDA) did not take part in the dispute.

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