Updated | Teachers’ Union declares trade dispute with Church authorities

The Malta Union of Teachers said that negotiations with the Secretariat for Catholic Education have failed since MUT demands are not being met by Church schools •  The Secretariat for Catholic Education is 'surprised'

Teachers' Union will not accept inferior conditions compared to State counterparts
Teachers' Union will not accept inferior conditions compared to State counterparts

Updated to include a statement from the Archdiocese of Malta

The Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) is at loggerheads with the Secretariat for Catholic Education following months of failed negotiations on a new Collective Agreement, and has declared a trade dispute.

The demands of the MUT to bring working conditions of teaching grades in church schools in line with state schools are not being met by Church authorities, the MUT said.

The decision to declare the trade dispute was based on six points of disagreement, including the church’s reported disagreement with a proposed mechanism whereby schools recognise the service of teaching grades already employed in church schools and who wish to provide their services in another church school.

“The MUT shall not be accepting conditions of work which are inferior to what is being expected and shall be updating members about the situation during a dedicated meeting,” the Union said.

The church authorities also opted not to provide laptops to kindergarten teachers and learning support educators, and are “expecting to have a pick and choose mechanism when it comes to summative and continuous assessment, which will lead to increase in workload,” according to the MUT.

The MUT said that church authorities are not willing to pay teachers for the additional workload caused by the preparation of exam papers, and that they will leave a group of seven counsellors outside current negotiations “despite the fact that their salaries and conditions were always aligned in previous agreements with those of other grades in the same agreement.”

The Church reacts

The Secretariat for Catholic Education said that it is surprised that the MUT declared an industrial dispute on "issues it is working to resolve."

"The Union is also informed that, in the coming days, the Secretariat has meetings scheduled with different entities to discuss the issues highlighted by the MUT."

The Secretariat said that all education grades employed by Church Schools and reimbursed by the State enjoy the same financial remuneration, and all education grades paid directly by Church Schools and governed by the collective agreement with the MUT enjoy identical conditions. "Employers have a right and obligation to develop roles to suit the respective contextual needs, which interested and eligible candidates may freely choose to express interest in and eventually take up through selection processes."

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