The Malta Independent 27 September 2023, Wednesday
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Updated: St Albert the Great College says MUT attempting to ‘sabotage’ opening, union denies

Thursday, 22 September 2022, 16:06 Last update: about 2 years ago

The administration of St. Albert the Great College on Thursday expressed its concern over what it described as the Malta Union of Teachers' (MUT) “reckless attempts to sabotage any efforts towards the opening of the scholastic year on Monday, despite offers from the College of compromise and negotiation”. The union, in response, denied that it is attempting any form of sabotage, and laid the blame on the rector and school board.

The union has been at loggerheads with the school over the dismissal of headmaster Mario Mallia, who said that he had been fired after pushing for measures to improve inclusivity for students of different genders and beliefs.  The school is run by the Dominican Order and is part of the Maltese Dominican Province.

In a statement Thursday, the college said that notwithstanding a conciliatory meeting held this afternoon, in an attempt to reach an amicable solution, the Union is still “unlawfully ordering two of its members to refrain from collaborating with the Head of the Secondary School in order to finalise the timetable for the next scholastic year for the Secondary School”.

Furthermore, the college added, yesterday it ordered its members not to collaborate with the new Head of the Secondary School for trying to mediate with the said staff members in attempt to adequately prepare the Secondary School to welcome its students.

The College said it has made various efforts to move towards harmonious industrial relations:

1.       During the last few weeks, the Rector held various meetings with all staff members and parents to charter a way forward.

2.      In hope of facilitating harmonious industrial relations, the Provincial has offered the Union to suspend the College Board, pending discussions on its restructuring.

3.    Furthermore, the College also sought to employ a new Head of School for the secondary school. The Head was chosen by a panel which was chaired by a former MUT president, and comprised of experienced educators, representatives of the Secretariat for Catholic Education, and representatives of the Dominican Order. Staff within the Primary school is working closely with the Rector to prepare for the next scholastic year, and have expressed their full confidence in him.

The College said it is holding MUT liable for any damages suffered due to its inordinate actions. Furthermore, it calls upon MUT to seek the best interests of the students and of its members so as to avoid further untimely disruptions with regards to the Secondary school, given that the Primary School is fully ready to welcome the students for the next scholastic year.

The College said it believes that with the full collaboration of all stakeholders even the Secondary school will be able to operate without the need of any contingency plan. The administration of the school will continue to work in the best interest of its students and of the College.

St Albert school being run through sheer incompetence, MUT says

The Malta Union of Teachers (MUT), in response, said that it will not accept that the St Albert the Great College rector, board and province "put the blame for the crisis at St Albert's on the educators and their union. It was clear from the onset, starting from the dismissal of the Head of School, that the college was taken over by an incompetent rector and board who took all actions to attack their employees, and who declared a war against the union representing educators."

"The union has always been consistent in its position and it always stated that it shall be collaborating with the Dominican Order towards the reopening and running of the school only when the board and rector resign or are removed from office."

The MUT said it knows the school's situation well, "and the hardship incurred by educators and students alike through the decisions taken unilaterally by the rector and board. Following the dismissal of Mario Mallia, which is now in front of the industrial tribunal, the rector and board carried out a vile attack on their employees"

This attack, the union said, consisted of: "Three legal letters to Assistant Heads of school for participating in a passive protest; A police report followed by the initiation of court proceedings against an employee for a facebook post criticising the rector; Repeated false assurances, inconsistencies, and reported threatening behaviour which led a considerable number of employees including teachers, LSEs and administrative staff to resign."

"The percentage of resignations of educators from primary is higher than that in the secondary. The resignation of both members of the senior management team in primary, has left the primary with no SLT member, other than the rector as the self-appointed acting head. This also led to the resignation of a member of the senior leadership team from the secondary school, with just two assistant heads remaining in employment." 

The union said that a legal letter to the remaining two Assistant Heads, "which was received yesterday, whereby the rector is threatening with police reports, reports to the data commissioner, and legal action for personal liability for following union directives."

The MUT and its members deny that the remaining two assistant heads have withheld any data pertaining to the school. "This data is available in the school online systems but the rector lacks the skills of accessing and interpreting it."

The Union is informed that a number of parents have removed their children from the school and transferred them to other schools.

The union was involved in several communications and meetings involving the Secretariat for Catholic Education, the Ministry for Education and recently the rector and his legal representative, it said, "but the term repeated throughout by the rector and legal representative is that the union is sabotaging the school."

"The latest development came about from the rector's state of panic, who is not in a position to guarantee teaching and learning of students as from Monday. To date, the school does not have a timetable, student allocation in different classes, options groups, LSE allocations and a myriad of other preparations necessary for the running of the scholastic year. The school does not have an operating license after it failed to obtain one to date due to the poor administration and management of the same."

The MUT said that it is not sabotaging anyone, "but the sabotage was instead carried out when an incapable rector and board fired the Head of School and took over a college without even knowing how to run a school. This was evidenced even recently, when it transpired that the rector does not even know how to access student data already available to the school in their central system to run the timetable. The rector, in a vile attack, also expressed during the meeting held Thursday afternoon, is shifting the blame on its educators and union when the blame should be shouldered by himself and his board, who created this critical situation for the school community consisting of educators, student and parents."



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