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Government and MUT Strike a Backdoor Deal Against All Procedures

The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers would like to point out the evident lack of knowledge that the MUT has with regards to industrial law. 

It is to be noted that the MUT had the right to formally notify the Permanent Secretary of the unresolved matter. The Permanent Secretary would then be obliged to chair a meeting between both parties within five (5) days.  If agreement is not reached either party may refer the dispute/issue to the established conciliation mechanism after all attempts for discussions of negotiations have failed with the Permanent Secretary concerned.

A conciliatory board should have been assembled on such a sensitive matter involving the health and safety of Educators, students and their families. It is clear that shortcuts have been taken despite the ongoing spike resulting from the lack of adequate restrictions taken during the festive season. It is undeniable, at this point in time, that the analysis and figures presented by the experts at the meeting in Castille, stating that COVID numbers are on the decline, are flawed. 

It has become apparent that the MUT has allowed government officials to circumvent established reconciliatory procedures, thus clearly proving that they are not sufficiently well-versed in industrial law procedures. 

In a recent correspondence with the Permanent Secretary himself, it was made clear that the MUT and MEDE are currently conducting ad hoc agreements behind closed doors without consulting its members.  

Reference is hereby being made to the COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT FOR EMPLOYEES IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE

DISAGREEMENT ON THE OPERATION AND/OR INTERPRETATION OF AGREEMENT

7.1 The Employer and the Unions agree that the interpretation and/or operation of this agreement and all interaction between them should be carried out in such a manner as to promote harmony. The same provisions apply in cases of interpretations, implementation, negotiations and all interaction between them with regard to any sectoral agreement.

7.2 When there is disagreement between the Employer and the Unions, or a particular Union, on the manner in which any agreement should be interpreted, applied or observed, or about any industrial dispute that may arise from time to time, the parties undertake to follow the procedure below, to ensure that the disagreement is settled in adequate timeframes to the satisfaction of both parties, and to further strengthen and facilitate the relations between the Employer and the Union/s:

a. The Employer and the Union/s are to meet to discuss and resolve the dispute/issue. Should no discussions be held, or should these discussions fail to settle the dispute/issue at hand, the Union has the right to formally notify the respective Permanent Secretary of the unresolved matter. The Permanent Secretary shall be obliged that within five (5) days to chair a meeting between both parties. If agreement is not reached either party may refer the dispute/issue to the established conciliation mechanism after all attempts for discussions of negotiations have failed with the Permanent Secretary concerned.

b. Without prejudice to any mechanism available at Law for the reconciliation of disputes, the Employer and the Unions agree to the conciliatory structure composed of a Chairman and two members, all three appointed by Government in agreement with the Unions. Conciliation meetings will take place after an industrial dispute is declared as indicated in this section. Such appointments shall be made within one month of signing of this agreement.

c. The conciliation mechanism can be invoked by either party. When the Union is to invoke this process, it is to write to the respective Permanent Secretary to ensure that the mechanism is invoked. In the case of conciliation being invoked by Management, the Union shall be informed accordingly. Within 15 days the Conciliation process should commence, which conciliation should not take any longer than two (2) months to submit the report.

d. Following the procedures above, in the event of an agreement not being reached the matter shall be referred to a Board, if both parties agree, set up in accordance with clauses (i) to (iv) hereunder with the sole scope to address any disputes or interpretation of an agreement referred to it. This Panel of Arbitrators should only be invoked after having exhausted all possible avenues to settle amicably and hence as a last resort.

i. The Employer and the Unions agree to the setting up of respective Panel of Arbitrators as may be required. The respective Panel of Arbitrators shall be appointed by the Government in agreement with the Union. The setup shall be with the sole scope to address any industrial relations disputes or interpretation of an agreement referred to it, after having exhausted all possible avenues to settle the issue amicably. A matter may be referred to this Panel of Arbitrators following the procedures above, including official conciliation. The decisions taken by the respective Panel of Arbitrators shall be binding on both parties and considered as final.

ii. Any decision or award made by the Panel of Arbitrators shall be binding on both parties, on the workers represented in the dispute, and the workers affected by it, provided that it shall not be open to either of the parties to seek by unilateral action or a reversion of any award or decision of the Panel of Arbitrators before the expiration of at least one year from the date of such an award or decision.

iii. This board shall be composed of a Chairman and two members, all three appointed by Government in agreement with the Unions. Within fifteen (15) days the board should be convened and which arbitration process should not take any longer than two (2) months to submit the report.