Updated | Teachers’ union in turmoil as three council members resign

Agreement that has incensed educators did not get unanimous backing when union leadership took it to the council • MUT finally admits percentage increases include salary hikes educators were going to get just the same as part of the public service agreement

Educators are angry and frustrated after being deceived on promised pay rises
Educators are angry and frustrated after being deceived on promised pay rises

Three officials at the Malta Union of Teachers have resigned and withdrawn their membership as the union faces the wrath of its members.

Educators are incensed after details of the agreement signed between the MUT and the government on 21 December show them receiving pay increases far inferior to those they were promised.

MaltaToday is further informed that the agreement did not obtain unanimous support when union president Marco Bonnici presented it to the council before the signing.

Over the weekend educators realised that the higher allowances agreed by their union did not equate to the 28% increase over five years they had been promised, causing an uproar on social media.

MaltaToday is informed that the three officials – David Rossi, Rita Catania and George Debono – tendered their resignations from the union on Sunday evening, giving the reasons for their decision in Facebook posts.

When contacted, the three officials confirmed their resignation, adding that they did not have trust in the current MUT leadership. “We have nothing to add to what we wrote on Facebook,” the ex-officials said.

MaltaToday has seen the comments posted by the former MUT officials.

Catania wrote that the MUT was “betrayed and usurped” by its own elected leaders.

“I can no longer defend my members since my vote is outnumbered and honesty and dignity no longer reside at the MUT quarters in Hamrun,” he wrote.

Discontent with the MUT leadership appears to have been mounting after Bonnici had first presented the financial aspects of the agreement to the council without informing them of the conditions attached to them. MaltaToday is aware that a council vote on the financial aspects alone did not obtain unanimous approval.

Similarly, when the council was asked to vote on all the agreement, the vote was not unanimous.

Educators are also questioning whether the online consultation exercise undertaken by the union leadership – in which they were asked whether they agreed with the promised percentage increases that included a 28% rise over five years – was according to the statute.

“We were deceived. Teachers were under the impression that all grades would be receiving a 28% increase but now we realised that this is not the case and to top it all the increases are inclusive of the salary adjustments that we were going to receive anyway as part of the civil service agreement last year,” an angry teacher told MaltaToday.

The sentiment is similar to many others who have contacted this newspaper after details on the allowances agreed by the MUT were published online by MaltaToday last Friday.

It was the first time educators got to see the financial aspects of the deal, causing widespread disappointment.

MUT reacts

The MUT has finally admitted that the percentage increases it had consulted educators on, included the annual salary increase dictated by the public service collective agreement.

Reacting to the departure of three council members, the MUT said it had accepted the resignations. The union said that the three ex-council members were present at the council when it convened for four separate full-day meetings, where the agreement was read and discussed "in its entirety during the various stages of negotiations".

"This included the financial package... It should also be stated that there were also meetings during last summer where the sectoral agreement was discussed with different categories when these members did not attend," the MUT said. The statement did not refer to how the council voted on the financial aspects and the final agreement.

The MUT is insisting that all seven grades mentioned in the sectoral agreement will have an increase in salary and allowance of an average of 28% or higher by 2022.

"This increase includes the increase per annum of the [public service] collective agreement as this is a sectoral agreement that builds on the collective one. This was explained throughout the consultation process and it is normal practice in all sectoral agreements," the MUT said.

Citing an example, the MUT said that a teacher on minimum scale 8 in 2017 - before the sectoral agreement - had a total salary and allowance of €21,926. This, the MUT added, would go up to €28,145 in 2022 - a 28.4% increase.

Read also: Educators confused by two newspaper reports: here is an explainer

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