The Malta Independent 21 January 2021, Thursday

Updated: MUT, UPE say that teachers' strike was ‘big success’

Thursday, 7 January 2021, 10:14 Last update: about 13 days ago

The Malta Union of Teachers has said that the strike they ordered last night for this morning was a “big success” as teachers remained at home on the first day that state schools reopened for students.

The MUT said that it is clear that educators are not ready to be kept in the dark and be led by an “irresponsible” ministry while the situation pertaining to the pandemic merits analysis and action, as health authorities themselves said yesterday.

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They appealed to health authorities and educational authorities in order to immediately analyse the situation with regards to the pandemic and the effect it has on educators, children, and families so that they can return to physical learning with all the necessary measures.

Malta yesterday reported a record-high number of 224 cases of Covid-19 – prompting major concern on the reopening of schools today.

The MUT claimed that health authorities had recommended that schools revert to online learning as a result of the pandemic, but that this had been ignored by the Education Ministry – a claim which health authorities denied.

The union held crunch talks with Prime Minister Robert Abela on Wednesday night, but ordered a strike for the following morning after these talks broke down.

The MUT said that it condemns the position of the Education Minister, where “in the most irresponsible manner, she continued to say that schools will open as per usual”.

“This when in hours of total panic, the ministry started to randomly phone anyone who they thought could go to open schools”, the MUT said.

They added that this irresponsibility was also clear when the same Minister tried to justify the government’s decision to discriminate between sectors by saying that online learning is not of good quality – a remark which they said discards and insults all the efforts made by educators during the period when schools were closed and when learning continued online.

The MUT said that it will continue to defend the interests of educators, students, and families and condemned anyone who is trying to shine a negative light on the same educators.

In a separate statement, the Union of Professional Educators (UPE) said that its own strike action had a 96.5% success rate. 

They said that some schools today on had a maximum of 9 educators going in for work, while others have kept their doors closed.  They thanked members for joining in on the strike and said that the UPE is waiitng on the government to be forthcoming with some form of communication and thus initiate discussions about the way forward.

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