MUT takes Mario Mallia's dismissal from St Albert College to the industrial tribunal

The Malta Union of Teachers has filed court proceedings against St Albert the Great College over Mario Mallia's dismissal as headmaster

The Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) has filed court proceedings against St Albert the Great College over the recent dismissal of its headmaster Mario Mallia.

In a declaration filed this morning before the Industrial Tribunal, Mallia explains that he had been employed as headmaster on an indefinite contract of employment, having started working at the college in 2003 as deputy head before being promoted to headmaster three years later.

Lawyers Keith Borg and Rebecca Mercieca filed the declaration on Monday morning.

Mallia states that he had received a “final warning” via a registered letter, signed by the rector of the college, Fr. Aaron Zahra, whilst he had been at home, recovering from COVID-19. The educator says that he had replied on July 8, with a detailed explanation and rebuttal of the accusations made against him.

Mallia had made clear his determination to find other ways of working with the Board and the rector, having also made proposals in the hopes of avoiding future problems, he said.

However, on 25 July, Mallia received a letter informing him that his employment had been terminated on the basis of “Usurpation of and/or use of employer’s property wihtout obtaining prior consent, with aggravating circumstances” and “insubordination with aggravating circumstances.”

A public statement issued by the Rector two days after the dismissal had been made “solely to attract public sympathy” and was not only untruthful, but also in conflict with the facts of the case, claims the former headmaster. He insisted that he had made several attempts to set up a meeting with the provincial, which had never materialised despite his efforts.

The former headmaster’s lawyers asked the Tribunal to declare that his employment had been terminated unfairly and order his reinstatement. The tribunal was also requested to quantify and order the defendant to pay Mallia damages.

MUT: Procedures not followed

In a press conference outside the law courts, MUT president Marco Bonnici declared the union’s support for Mallia, arguing that the dismissal was unjust because established procedures had not been followed and because the reasons given were “unfounded and irrelevant.” 

Mallia had already been judged and found to be in the right by the court of public opinion, he added.

Standing beside Bonnici, Mario Mallia also addressed reporters, pointing out that it was the parents and students who were worst affected by the dismissal. “I have no difficulty in discussing the issues. We made several requests to meet the Rector as well as the administration in order to discuss the case but were rejected.”

The board was not inclusive and not part of the community, he added, pointing out that it had existed for only one year. He alleged that the board had made only three decisions during this time, all of them being to either reject proposals or to dismiss him.

“It is unjust to receive legal letters for speaking up and questions over Facebook posts,” Mallia told reporters, describing the administration’s behaviour as not favouring inclusivity amongst the staff and was acting contrary to the beliefs of the Dominican Order.