Disabled children risk being 'bargaining chips' in teachers unions feud

The Commission for the Rights of Persons with a Disability said it was concerned by recent statements issued by teachers’ unions

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

The Commission for the Rights of Persons with a Disability (CRPD) has said that while it supported Learning Support Educators’ call for better working conditions, this should not come at the expense of students.

The CRPD was reacting to statements by the Union of Professional Educators (UPE) and the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) last week, in which they claimed that teachers were suffering injuries because of the number of children they were required to lift during school hours.    

The commission urged the government to take the “necessary measures to safeguard the health of its educators and improve their working conditions”. It said that, not only should schools be accessible, but they should also be equipped with the necessary equipment, such as hoists and evacuation chairs, with an appropriate level of training offered LSEs. 

“However, LSEs’ quest for better working conditions should not be at the expense of disabled children,” the CRPD said. “We very much hope that disabled children will not become collateral damage in the battle for membership between the teachers’ unions.”

Commissioner Oliver Scicluna argued that while educator’s health and working conditions needed be safeguarded, this cannot be at the expense of the well-being and dignity of disabled children, who are among the most vulnerable members of our society.

“Our interest is to ensure that disabled students are not disadvantaged in any way, according to the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act and the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with a Disability.”

The CRPD stressed that it was committed to “rendering Maltese society an inclusive one, in a way that persons with disability reach their full potential in all aspects of life, while also enjoying a high quality of life thanks to equal opportunities”.

In fulfilling its mission, the CPRD said it worked to eliminate any form of direct or indirect social discrimination against persons with disability or their families, while also providing them with the necessary assistance and support. 

READ MORE: LSEs having to carry excessively heavy loads, teachers’ union insists

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