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Restructure spurs protest at Indonesia’s largest research institution

But supporters of the plan say it will make the Indonesian Institute of Sciences more productive.

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Hundreds of scientists in Indonesia protested on Friday against a major reorganization of the country’s largest research institution that is set to relocate more than 1,400 science-support jobs.

The head of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Laksana Tri Handoko, says the changes will make the organization more efficient and will allow scientists to concentrate on research, which will help to transform LIPI into a world-class research institute.

The restructure will move 1,420 of the 1,771 administration staff, such as librarians, from individual centres to the organization’s main research hubs or its headquarters in Jakarta.

The LIPI building in Jakarta, Indonesia

Many staff at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences have been relocated to the agency's headquarters in Jakarta (pictured).Credit: Oget Sincan/Google

But researchers at LIPI, a constellation of research centres across the country, are angry because, they say, Handoko failed to consult with senior scientists about how the restructure would affect their centres and staff.

Handoko says that he did consult with his deputies about his plans to restructure the agency, and that administration staff were asked where they would prefer to work. “In principle, there is no staff relocation to other cities without the consent of the staff,” he told Nature. But Handoko concedes that details about how support staff would be reorganized were not shared with employees.

Relocation fears

In the past two weeks, official letters have been sent to administration staff to notify them about whether their jobs will be relocated, prompting the protest at the organization’s headquarters. Protestors say that many of the support staff are settled with families, and that relocating them to other cities or centres will have a major impact on their lives.

At the rally, Handoko signed a letter written by some of the protestors that said he will temporarily stop the reorganization, create a team to evaluate the reorganization, and include LIPI scientists in future deliberations concerning the restructure.

Some Indonesian researchers, many of them younger scientists working overseas or those who have returned to Indonesia from abroad, support Handoko’s plans. Adi Nurhadiyatna, an informatician at LIPI who is currently doing his PhD at the University of Zagreb in Croatia, thinks the restructure will make research in Indonesia more productive. “The goal is very good because researchers will focus on research rather than administrative work,” he says.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-00513-2
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