The Malta Independent 15 December 2017, Friday

MUT defends industrial action as MCAST students complain directives affecting exams preparation

Julian Bonnici Thursday, 7 December 2017, 09:44 Last update: about 8 days ago

MUT President Marco Bonnici has placed the onus on MCAST to remedy the ongoing trade dispute, after telling The Malta Independent that students would ‘unfortunately always be affected’ by industrial action against schools or educational establishments.

The MUT last week declared an industrial dispute and issued directives, including a one-day strike to be held on 15 December over “lack of adherence to agreed deadlines in which the college had to provide counter proposal for the financials of the Collective Agreement being negotiated.”

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Students have expressed concerns over a number of directives which could potentially affect them specifically - such as no communication with students beyond time-tabled lectures and contact hours, the non-use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), and the non-monitoring of apprenticeships.

Some students have told this newspaper that they were unable to access any of the material that has been published on the VLE since the start of the scholastic year ever since the directives were implemented on 4 December.

Asked about this, Bonnici insisted that students are still allowed to access the service and have the relative material made available to them given that the scholastic semester is almost over. But some students think otherwise, as the service is no longer available.

Other students did say that their required material remained available to them, but raised other concerns over a dense assignment and exam schedule, as many teachers sent their students their assignments early, rather than stagger them, due to the industrial action.

Bonnici told the newsroom that he was looking into the issue, but is yet to provide further information.

The trade dispute began over the new collective agreements between the union and the educational establishment, after the old agreements expired over a year ago.

The industrial action, which will culminate with a one-day strike on 15 December, was declared due to the lack of adherence to agreed deadlines in which MCAST had to provide counter proposal for the financials of the collective Agreement being negotiated.

Bonnici noted that it is clear that whilst the union is taking the agreements seriously, with all the necessary commitment towards its members, MCAST is instead dragging its feet and finding excuses to refrain from adhering to commitments to the detriment of educators and ultimately students.

Bonnici revealed that there has been no communication with the Ministry of Education itself over the trade dispute ever since industrial action was initiated, but said there has been some correspondence with the Permanent Secretary.

 

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