[WATCH] ‘Union will never use percentages again,’ says Malta Union of Teachers president

The Malta Union of Teachers has laid part of the blame for the confusion that arose among educators on the government’s insistence not to divulge the financial aspects • MUT president says union is stronger than ever

MUT president Marco Bonnici (centre) with council members behind him
MUT president Marco Bonnici (centre) with council members behind him
‘Union will never use percentages again,’ says Malta Union of Teachers president

Malta Union of Teachers president, Marco Bonnici denies that the union deceived members but admits the use of percentages to explain wage increases may have confused many.

Bonnici appeared for the first time this afternoon in a press conference to clarify aspects of the sectoral agreement the MUT concluded with the government on 21 December. Earlier, it was reported that three former MUT council members had joined the UHM and were forming a new union for educators.

Educators were angered when they realised that the 28% increase they were promised as a result of the sectoral agreement included the salary rise they were already going to benefit from as a result of the public service collective agreement concluded in April last year.

Bonnici now admits the union was not aware that there were so many members who did not understand that the percentage increases it was talking about included the salary hikes of the public sector collective agreement.

“What I can say, is that in every meeting we organised for members in various grades, it was always made clear that the proposed increases included the changes already in force as a result of the public sector collective agreement,” Bonnici said.

Asked why the union always spoke of percentage increases and not raw figures, Bonnici laid the blame on the government, which had instructed the union not to divulge the financial aspects of the sectoral agreement. This is why the union published hard copies of the agreement without the financial tables, a move that frustrated educators, he added.

“The probability is the government was discussing with others and did not want to divulge the financial aspects… we abided by the directive to release only the percentages but never again will the union use percentages in the future because these can be misinterpreted,” Bonnici said. The union is currently negotiated agreements for educators at MCAST and ITS.

The financial details were revealed by MaltaToday last week, causing an uproar among educators who realised the 28% increase over five years was not over and above the salary increase they had already got from the April collective agreement.

Bonnici insisted the MUT would continue clarifying aspects of the agreement with educators over the coming weeks.

Asked about the 14% increase in 2018 that was promised to educators but which many realised was not the case, Bonnici said this was based on the high-end scales. However, he said that although some would receive less this year, over the five-year run they would benefit from a higher percentage increase.

Ex council members caused disruption

Bonnici, who addressed the conference with council members behind him, accused the three former council members who resigned this week of ill-intentions.

The trio - Rita Catania, David Rossi and George Debono – have since joined the UHM with the intention of forming a new union for educators. The announcement was made on Wednesday morning by the UHM and the new union would be called the Union of Professional Educators.

Bonnici said he was informed that preparations for the new union had been going on since August and accused the three ex councillors of trying to derail the MUT by causing disruption.

He said the government had informed it that one of these ex members was being investigated after the individual had blocked off three lessons, claiming them as MUT work instead. Bonnici did not name the individual.

Bonnici said he was not aware of any members that had deserted the union to join the new organisation and insisted the MUT was united and stronger than ever.

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