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Teachers claim discrimination in ex-gratia pension top-up

The Ombudsman had advised the teachers to write to the ministry and demand equal treatment to that enjoyed by their junior colleagues.

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
12 July 2017, 3:13pm
The teachers filed a judicial protest after what they claim to be discriminatory treatment in the granting of ex-gratia pensions
The teachers filed a judicial protest after what they claim to be discriminatory treatment in the granting of ex-gratia pensions
Ten teachers are alleging discrimination after a less senior group of teachers were granted an ex-gratia pension in recent weeks, from which payment they had been excluded.

The group of teachers - five of whom are retired - filed a judicial protest this morning against the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, the Minister for Family, Children's Rights and Social Solidarity and the Permanent Secretaries in those two ministries.

The complainants, some of whom had formed part of the public service since 1976, had been appointed as public officers in January 1980. The second group of teachers had been appointed in February of that year, which the protesting parties argued meant that the latter were less senior.

In spite of this, throughout their careers, both groups had been treated equally, both in terms of salary and in the other conditions of work.

The judicial protest was filed after they became aware that in recent weeks, members of the second group had received an ex- gratia sum in addition to their Treasury pension. This payment followed a call issued by the Finance Ministry for a “once only grant for persons who on officially joining the Public Sector after 16 January 1979, had worked in Government departments before 1979.”

On the advice of the Ombudsman, the teachers had written to the Permanent Secretary within the Social Affairs Ministry demanding equal treatment to that enjoyed by their junior colleagues.

In its reply, however, the Ministry explained that the difference was merited because they had not been employed in the public service before January 1979 and before starting their university course, unlike the other teachers.

The complainants explained that the scheme being offered by the Finance Minister made it obligatory for anyone accepting the grant to renounce any right to take legal action against the government over pension claims and to withdraw any pending lawsuits.

The protestants declared that they intended to apply for the grant without any prejudice to their rights at law, pending further information regarding the scheme and called upon the Minister and permanent secretaries to ensure that they receive equal treatment and to avoid unjust and discriminatory acts in their regard.

Lawyers Ian Spiteri Bailey and Victoria Cuschieri signed the judicial protest.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...