Updated | Coronavirus: lack of water prompts union to stop lectures at two MCAST institutes, lessons at Paola primary schools

Amid coronavirus concerns, the Malta Union of Teachers orders members at two MCAST institutes and Paola A and B primary schools to stop lectures and lessons after water supply is cut off

MUT orders members at two institutes at MCAST's Paola campus to stop lectures after water supply to buildings was cut off
MUT orders members at two institutes at MCAST's Paola campus to stop lectures after water supply to buildings was cut off

Updated at 2:50pm with directive issued to Paola Primary A and Paola Primary B teachers

Academics from two MCAST institutes and teachers at two Paola primary schools have been ordered to stop all lectures and lessons after the water supply to the buildings was cut off.

The Malta Union of Teachers issued the directive to MCAST on Thursday and the lectures were stopped from 11:30am.

The directive impacts MUT members at all grades in the Institute of Community Services and the Institute of Business Management and Commerce, which are at the Paola campus.

It later also directed all educators at Paola Primary A and Paola Primary B schools to refrain from reporting to work at the respective schools from Friday.

"This directive is being issued after the union has been following the lack of fresh water supply at the two schools. The situation has been followed again today whereby the problem of a lack of fresh water supply persisted despite works carried out. In view of the situation and as announced, the MUT is adopting a zero tolerance approach in situations where there is no water supply in schools. Educators at the two schools are directed to report to work at 8:20am at the ALP building instead," the union said.

The MUT said the directives to MCAST and the Paola primary schools will remain in force until the water supply returned back to normal.

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“It is unacceptable that at MCAST there is a problem with the provision of basic services such as water in the circumstances prevalent in the country today,” the MUT said with reference to concerns over the coronavirus.

Health authorities have been urging people to adopt basic personal hygiene such as regular washing of hands with water and soap as a line of first defence against the coronavirus.

Schools re-opened today after the carnival holidays.

Zero tolerance 

The union said that the measure resulted in MUT stopping lessons in two institutes at MCAST where there were no water facilities or sanitary facilities. 

It insisted that it had zero tolerance for situations that did not provide adequate water amenities.

"We informed the education authorities that if we receive a report that no adequate water facilities are present at a school or similar institution, the union would be immediately interrupting and stopping lessons as has happened earlier this morning," it said, adding that it would be doing so to protect educators and students.

MCAST urges MUT to lift directive as it resolves issue

MCAST has returned with a response to the teachers' union, saying that the institution's authorities were not to blame for the water shortage and evinced disappointment towards the directive.

"The shortage of tap water at some institutes within MCAST was due to faulty workmanship during roadworks which were carried out close to the college. MCAST was not aware of the situation which resulted in reservoirs not being filled," an MCAST statement read on Thursday.

It added that once the matter was brought to MCAST's attention, immediate action was taken by the college and the Water Services Corporation. Water bowsers were brought to MCAST to replenish the college with water, the statement read. 

"Roadworks and repairs started at 11:00am, whilst at the same time, water bowsers were on site supplying fresh water. It can be confirmed that at 12:45pm the repairs were finished and the provision of water was back to normal.

"It is very sad that notwithstanding the fact that the water shortage was beyond MCAST’s control, MUT still issued a Directive to stop lessons from taking place and hence denying students from their normal academic entitlement."

MCAST urged MUT to lift the Directive and resume lessons.

Despite Education Minister Owen Bonnici reaching out to the unions in question and saying that the "situation has been resolved," the MUT insisted it was "not reasurred."

It said that the directives are still in place and that teachers in Paola are to report to work at ALP instead of Primaries A and B as a result of the water supply problem.

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