Off the Roof, but Italy's Environmental Scientists Remain Unhappy

Researchers at Italy's main environmental research institute have stopped their rooftop protest, but they're still dissatisfied with job promises from Italian Minister of the Environment Stefania Prestigiacomo. The minister lured down the protesters from the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) with a promised meeting, and in an agreement signed on 20 January, she pledged to renew all threatened contracts for 1 year and to appoint new positions in the near future. But that pledge apparently covers just 200 contracts out of 450 lost positions at ISPRA, as the minister plans to only renew contracts that expired on 31 December 2009. And the renewals are for just 1 year—the researchers had asked for 3-year contracts at a minimum. Some of the researchers at ISPRA say they are currently working without a contract and remain concerned about the future of ISPRA, which is now headed by a former official with the Italian police, not a scientist. Those behind the rooftop protest offered this statement to ScienceInsider:

We obtained some results but it is too little and much remains to be done. The institution is still running the risk of being dismantled. If the policy of the Minister doesn't take a consistent U-turn, it will ultimately lead to poor quality research and environmental monitoring, which will harm every citizen, not only researchers at Ispra.