Angry parent files judicial protest against unions over school opening delay

Lawyer Andre Borg files judicial protest, blames government decision for students’ delayed entry into classrooms on pique between MUT and UPE

State and church schools will start welcoming students back in class from 7 October
State and church schools will start welcoming students back in class from 7 October

Angered by the postponed reopening of schools, lawyer Andre Borg this morning filed a judicial protest against two unions representing educators, blaming them for the decision.

Students in State and church schools had to return to their classrooms on Wednesday but the Education Ministry decided last week to postpone the re-opening by a week.

While teachers returned to schools this morning, students will return to their classrooms in a staggered manner between 7 October and 14 October.

The decision was taken to allow those schools that had not yet fully complied with health and safety guidelines to catch up.

Some private schools opened their doors for students today as originally planned, being the first to accept children back into their classrooms after schools were shut last March.

However, the one-week postponement of the school year in State and church schools does not appear to have gone down well with some parents.

Borg insisted that schools that were fully-prepared should have been allowed to open as planned. In the judicial protest, he said the decision has caused problems for working parents.

The judicial protest is only targeted at the Malta Union of Teachers and the Union of Professional Educators, which he blames for the government decision.

“The rivalry has forced the MUT and the UPE to take industrial action against government and educational institutions for their egocentric ends so that each union appears more militant than the other,” Borg said.

Borg said that while he agreed with the fundamental right of association, parents, educators and students also had a right to doubt the intentions of the unions.

The judicial protest argued that the trade union tactics adopted by the MUT and UPE during this sensitive period for all workers cast doubt on their true intentions.

Borg said the actions of the unions were also detrimental to the “thousands of genuine educators”, who were receiving flak for the decision to postpone the return of students to their classrooms.

“The majority of schools in Malta and Gozo are ready to welcome students back and took all measures to ensure a safe and clean environment. This is why the actions of the unions hitting all schools were disproportionate,” he argued.

But the judicial protest also hit out at what it claims is the unions’ indecision on what they want from online lessons. “The unions do not have a definitive position on whether teachers should give live online lessons or recorded one for the benefit of those students who cannot physically attend schools,” he said, adding that it is an “uncontested fact” that online lessons are not a substitute for classroom learning.

He said it was impossible for a working parent like himself to spend six hours with his child at home while online lessons take place. “To do so, parents will have to abandon their work schedules… the delayed re-opening of schools after pressure from the MUT and UPE has disrupted the working life of thousands of parents, which has also led to loss of income,” Borg said.

The judicial protest called on the unions to shoulder responsibility for their actions and "desist from their militant behaviour" for the benefit of the common good.

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