MUT declares dispute with Church over schools breaching work conditions

The Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) has declared a trade dispute with the Secretariat for Catholic Education about the 23 Church schools which are in breach of working conditions of educators.

This comes after a notification that was issued earlier today by the MUT outlining that these schools are in breach of working conditions, with the breach being tied to decisions of these schools to alternate attendance of students. The MUT threatened industrial action should the situation not be rectified, and was meant to meet with the Secretariat today.

The Church authorities responded by stating that they will only be willing to engage in further discussions once the Union’s threats are withdrawn, and cancelled the scheduled meeting.

“Alternating attendance puts pressure on educators” – MUT

The MUT stated that the decision to alternate attendance was never discussed with the MUT. This is leading to waves of pressures on educators, who must juggle between:

  • face-to-face teaching to students who are at school;
  • online teaching to students who are at school;
  • recording of lessons to students who are at school
  • live streaming to students who are at home;
  • recording of lessons to students who are at home;
  • preparation of videos and other multimedia resources to students who are at home.

The MUT stated that this exceeds the workload of educators, who must also prepare for all lessons in all teaching modes. Therefore, it is ready to  to stick to the principle that educators carry out only face-to-face teaching to students who are in schools. It clarified that it is not against schools providing additional services such as online learning, so long as employees are respected.

 It once again warned the schools to address the situation, or they will start facing industrial action.

“Church Schools will only be willing to engage in further discussions once the Union’s threats are withdrawn” – Secretariat for Catholic Education

The Secretariat for Catholic Education stated that discussions will ensue after the Union’s threats are dropped.

The statement outlined that Church authorities:

  • will continue to ensure that the health and safety of educators, students and staff in all Church schools remains paramount, in adherence to the guidelines issued by Public Health Authorities.
  • remain committed to continue providing over 17,000 students with the right to their education, despite the challenging situations being faced.
  • recognise that parents/guardians have the right to protect their children and their household in the manner they deem most suitable. This includes children who require shielding, are on quarantine or cannot physically attend school for other reasons.
  • believe in and trust the professionalism of their educators, and recognise the importance of e-learning, use of digital tools and of varied modalities mentioned in the Collective Agreement between the Church and the MUT.
  • will maintain continuous discussions with stakeholders, as long as the health and safety of all students and educators is prioritised, and the right to education within manageable parameters is recognised.