The Malta Independent 18 April 2019, Thursday

Updated (3): Teachers to strike on 8 November after discussions with government fail

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 25 October 2017, 12:12 Last update: about 2 years ago

The Malta Union of Teachers has declared a trade dispute after negotiations with government over a sectoral agreement fell apart at financial package discussion stage, and the union will issue around 50 directives culminating in a strike on 8 November.

The MUT is demanding a rise of over 20% in take home pay (which would include allowances etc) for all state and Church school educators, arguing that members of the profession are not being given a worthy financial package, and believe what is being offered falls short.

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Discussions were handled by representatives of the Education Ministry, MUT members said. MUT President Marco Bonnici said that the government dragged its feet on wage negotiations, and that despite talk, despite the need to incentivise more youths to pick teaching as a profession and to encourage teachers to remain in the profession, government’s offer was less than 5% over five years.

“Prominent members of the government have for weeks been saying that educators have had the smallest increases in salaries and allowances throughout all the negotiations that happened over the past 10 years. The union submitted its financial proposals in summer, requesting compensation for additional work introduced over the past years.”

“No acceptable financial proposal has been presented to the union," he said.

Bonnici described the less than 5% offer as miserable, and said it is an offer that does not compensate teachers for their work.

 “In spite of positive reassurance when it comes to tangible proposals educators are being short-changed with a financial proposal which on average would result in an increase over a number of years of less than 5%. The MUT is not satisfied with this and expects a much better package in line with what was being proposed to value the work of educators and to tackle the current crisis.

The 50 directives, Bonnici said, would include Church school teachers as they are directly affected by the financial package for grades at these schools. The first set of directives will take effect on Monday 30 October. The one-day strike on 8 November will affect Church and State schools, and will also see a one-hour strike for all grades at MCAST and ITS.

The MUT explained that separate negotiations with ITS and MCAST are ongoing, however that government is dragging its feet there as well.

Asked what they will do to ensure that students won’t be the ones to end up suffering as a result, he said that the union will be responsible in the type of directives it will issue, as well as by staggering the directives. “We are a trade union and to make a difference and an impact we have to issue directives.”

Government reaction

Government said it took note of the industrial action, and expressed its “total committment to strengthen conditions for teachers, after teachers and educaters were forgotten during the 25-years of the previous administration.”

The statement read that government wants to reach an agreement with the union, as is clearly indicated in the government’s manifesto. 

Government said that a considerable number of points raised by MUT, and agreed to by government, were discussed during the negotiations, while stating that there are other points where agreement still needs to be reached. “Government also made a number of proposals to improve conditions which go further than what was requested."

 “While government recognises the right to these actions, it invites the union to come back to the table in order to finalise the agreement in the interest of all educator grades.”

The minister will keep parents regularly updated through notifications on education.gov.mt

PN reaction

The PN said that the industrial action confirms how government has no plan for teachers.

“Our country is in a tragic state going through an institutional crisis. Government has kept on trying to sweep everything under the carpet and ignoring one of the most important sectors to help start creating trust in the institutions.”

“Our teachers are not feeling the surplus government speaks about, and instead teachers are facing a crisis.”

“While the Opposition is ready to help government address this crisis, they insist that government stop acting as though everything is business as usual.”

PL reaction

The PL, in reaction, said that the PN is rushing to jump onto an issue they believe they could gain political capital on, "yet it was the many years of PN governments that ignored the needs of the profession."

 

 

 

 

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