The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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Education Minister skirts around questions on end date of MUT collective agreement negotiations

Sabrina Zammit Friday, 24 May 2024, 14:13 Last update: about 24 days ago

The Education Minister, Clifton Grima, skirted around several questions as to whether the end date of the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) collective agreement negotiations was near.

However, the Minister noted that there had been further advancements since the last update on the matter.

Pressed on whether the negotiations would be concluded before the upcoming elections, the Minister replied that such progress "would be announced through official channels."

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Last week, the MUT announced that it had registered a trade dispute and issued an ultimatum to the government as talks on the renewal of the collective agreement reached yet another deadlock. A similar impasse occurred late last year, leading to a teachers' strike in November.

With the ultimatum expiring today, the Minister was asked about the matter but refused to comment, directing journalists to contact the union since it was they who had registered the dispute.

Earlier this week, when asked about the current stage of negotiations, Prime Minister Robert Abela told journalists that the collective agreement should be concluded "in the coming days." While Grima agreed with the Prime Minister's sentiment, he also noted that both parties have different negotiation methodologies, adding that the spirit remains one of peace and maturity. He stated that negotiation meetings "can be said to be happening every day."

Earlier this month, aside from MUT directives, lecturers at MCAST were also instructed by the Union of Professional Educators (UPE) to follow a different set of directives. The UPE directives, which took effect on 9 May, address issues related to lecturers being forced to remain on campus when students are not present. The UPE commented on its Orwellian similarity, calling it a "scenario reminiscent of some animals being more equal than others."

Commenting on the MCAST directives issued by the UPE, the Minister said that the first meeting had taken place and that more were scheduled for the future. In this regard, Grima expressed concern for both educators and students, while also acknowledging that it is within the rights of educators to act on these directives.

When asked if he could confirm whether there would be incidents similar to the teachers' strike in November, the Minister said he could only expressed hope that the collective agreement negotiations would be concluded soon.

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