Education Ministry warns educators, school strike is ‘illegitimate’ • Union condemns intimidation

State schools will open as usual on Thursday as government warns educators they are obliged to report to work in wake of strike ordered by Malta Union of Teachers • Union insists strike is legal

Government says schools will reopen on Thursday despite MUT strike action
Government says schools will reopen on Thursday despite MUT strike action

Updated at 11:40pm with MUT statement

Strike action ordered by the Malta Union of Teachers is “illegitimate”, the Education Ministry said this evening, insisting there was no health advice to keep schools shut.

The ministry said State schools will open as planned tomorrow morning. However, it did not say what arrangements were being made to take care of students who do attend and whether the respective class bubbles will still be respected.

The statement came hours after an emergency meeting at Castille ended with government turning down the MUT’s request for schools to offer online teaching in the wake of a spike of COVID-19 cases.

The union has ordered a two-day strike, claiming that health advice given to the authorities not to physically reopen schools after the holidays was being ignored. The situation was compounded throughout the day when church schools collectively decided to start with online teaching.

But government insisted that no such advice existed. “During a meeting between government and the MUT at Castille, teachers’ representatives heard Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci saying that the educational and health authorities were working hand in hand to reopen schools, contrary to what the union said,” the government said.

The ministry said the union was acting contrary to the advice given by the health authorities.

“The education of our children is a priority as is public health… the MUT’s decision to ignore the health authorities’ advice is illegitimate and when tomorrow schools reopen, teachers are expected to report at school normally and honour their work obligations,” the ministry warned.

READ ALSO: MUT orders strike after government denies request for online teaching as COVID-19 infections spike

Union condemns intimidation

In a late night statement on its Facebook page, the MUT insisted the strike action was legal and condemned what it claimed was intimidation directed towards school management.

The MUT is seeing media reporting of the Ministry claiming that the strike is not legitimate. MUT assures all that its...

Posted by Malta Union of Teachers on Wednesday, 6 January 2021

The union said government was directing personnel not working in schools to report to schools over the next two days. The MUT called on its members to refrain from carrying out duties outside their roles and to refrain from replacing personnel who are on strike.

Meanwhile, the union said it was informed by management at the Malta College for Arts Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Institute for Tourism Studies (ITS) that over the next two days all teaching will be done online. Following this decision, the union said its strike directive was being lifted for these two educational institutions.