The Malta Independent 13 December 2018, Thursday

Updated: Union says Stella Maris College ‘breaking terms’ of Church school agreement

Wednesday, 5 December 2018, 08:38 Last update: about 7 days ago

The Union of Professional Educators - Voice of The Workers said Stella Maris College is breaking terms of the Church school agreement, the union said in a statement.

The union said it has been monitoring Teachers working load from the beginning of the scholastic year.  Various teachers have been issued with a working load of 26 lessons well beyond the maximum load agreed, the union said. 

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It also seems to transpire that certain teachers have been exempted from replacements for some unknown reason at the detriment of their colleagues. 

This situation has raised concern among teachers as they are working well beyond the stipulated amount of agreed lessons (maximum of 25 lessons).  The union said it is also in possession of emails in which the SMT was kindly requesting teachers to volunteer as to take up replacements. 

The union said it is also aware that during educational visits, in which the Secretariat of Catholic Education agrees that they should be considered as contact time, teachers have been given additional replacements to cover in the same week thus exceeding their maximum load. 

UPE officials said it will gladly meet the school management as to sort out the issue within the coming days. In the meantime, the union has advised its members as not to perform additional replacements, and if replacements are issued that exceed the maximum load they are entitled to, one is to report immediately to the union. 

UPE said will not tolerate situations in which teachers are discriminated from one another. 

In reply, the Secretariat for Catholic Education said it acknowledged the situation that schools are facing in terms of human resources. Schools have to adhere to new requirements set in the Collective Agreement whilst having been obliged by the Education Authorities to maximise the number of lessons teachers are assigned.

This issue is presently being discussed with the MUT. In the case of Stella Maris College, the College said that only three teachers have been assigned one lesson over and above the agreed working load. This is being done on a temporary basis until more teaching staff is available.

The College is giving these teachers time-in-lieu to compensate for the extra lessons. Teachers are free to refuse these additional lessons and their decision will continue to be respected by the College. Teachers exempted from replacements already carry out an appropriate number of lessons and other responsibilities.

With regards to educational visits, it is agreed that these are considered as contact time. Teachers doing replacements have been occasionally asked to carry out on a voluntary basis one extra replacement a week over and above their maximum load. When the need of Stella Maris College was greater, teachers were asked to carry out two extra lessons.

The head of school and assistant heads of school have also taken on the added task of replacing teachers. In line with the established procedure, Stella Maris College will continue liaising with Union officials on topics of mutual concern.

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