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New broom at the union

MUT appointments mark a number of firsts in the long history of the union, including the first female general secretary and also, with two females and two male top officials we achieved full gender equality without any need for quotas

Marco Bonnici
9 August 2017, 7:30am
MUT says childcare centres should always act in the best interest of the children under their care
MUT says childcare centres should always act in the best interest of the children under their care
As expected, the first month following my election as the new Malta Union of Teachers president has been quite hectic. Together with the senior vice-president, Norman Grech, we have met hundreds of members with issues ranging from deployment cases to very serious and delicate matters some members are unfortunately facing at their workplace. These cases are our first priority in the short- and medium-term – this is one of the backbone services of the MUT and our members can rest assured they would find help should they require it.

Meanwhile, we continued work on agreements of ITS and MCAST and we reactivated negotiations on the agreements of both State and Church schools. We are aiming for wide-ranging consultation on agreements starting around September/October. It’s an uphill struggle due to the complexity of the system but concrete measures need to be taken to bring about the required improvements in salaries and conditions of work as one of the main measures to address the crisis in the teaching profession.

Everyone in the educational sector knows what the problems are but these are not always acknowledged by all. I will be stressing to no end so that the authorities take the plunge to make the necessary changes, especially in salary, allowances and conditions of work as we have stated repeatedly, to attract the best possible people to our noble profession and to continue to provide the best educational experience to our students.

This must be seen as an opportunity in the current booming economy to invest in educators as a direct investment in our students.

Unfair to blame child carers

I am following the current discussions on childcare centres and one needs to make it a point that most issues to be tackled in this sector are related to centres as organisations.

These include ratios of carers to children, transparency of centres, health and safety, cleanliness and other related issues. It is therefore unfair to blame child carers personally for such shortcomings and jump to conclusions about cameras and additional spot-checks on personnel as the way forward. Instead, authorities should first of all work on making sure that the national standards at organisation level are reached.

I believe that this alone would eliminate most of the current issues and would improve the conditions of those who ultimately work in the front line.

As a union we are willing to continue discussing issues on behalf of our members to improve the situation for all concerned. The union agrees that these centres should always act in the best interest of the children under their care, particularly in the standards reached and in good practices. The union also agrees – and this should be obvious – that any cases of abuse should be reported immediately through established channels.

New MUT officials

Earlier this week the union announced its new general secretary, which means that the new leadership of the union now has its full complement in place. I welcome Ms Carmen Dimech to the post and look forward to start working immediately on the many issues at hand, including pending agreements and individual member issues. Her vast experience in the sector will certainly be an asset at this crucial time, and I am certain that she is more than capable of performing a sterling job with the help of all other officials, staff and union members. This followed the election of the new vice-president, Ms Elaine Germani. Ms Germani has been in office for a couple of weeks and has already assisted a number of members whilst participating in official meetings and agreements. Her experience at grass-root levels shall be invaluable for the union to ensure that it remains in touch with members’ current issues.

As a side note, these appointments mark a number of firsts in the long history of the union, including the first female general secretary and also, with two females and two male top officials we achieved full gender equality without any need for quotas. This augurs well, especially since the workforce in the educational sector is in good part female and therefore this will be reflected in union representation.

Marco Bonnici is MUT president

DealToday
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