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Intimidatory Tactics Will Not Stop the UPE

The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers was utterly shocked when last night, through the media, it found out that MEDE had filed a judicial letter against the UPE. It is to be noted that the notification of this judicial letter was made public before the UPE received it, and that to date, as this article is being written, the UPE has still not received this document.

The union is disgusted at the blatant bad faith with which the ministry is, yet again, acting. Procedures have been completely disregarded given that no formal notification was sent to the UPE before the press release was sent. The absence of social dialogue continues to be an issue with a ministry which replaces protocols and official documentations with press releases.

The UPE has been acting, and will continue acting, in the best interest of its members at all times, especially after the umpteenth ad hoc agreement made between the MUT and MEDE. Apart from the supposed summarized version, again published as a press release, of the ad hoc agreement made in January, the plans of action, and anything in terms of specific details which were discussed, remain unknown. Also, nothing of what that press release promised, black on white, has been acted upon and brought to fruition. Formal requests to view the signed document have been ignored, and it is significant to point out that such a document should be made accessible to all, and should not be something a union, or any other interested party for that matter, should have to literally repeatedly pressure the ministry to access.

The treacherous behaviour of the ministry did not stop there. During a recent meeting between the UPE and MEDE officials, where discussions were being held to discuss the directives issued, at a time where MEDE was fully aware of the fact that the UPE was otherwise engaged, the Permanent Secretary barraged our members with emails, the sole aim of which was to intimidate them into submission. The irresponsibility thus demonstrated by the Permanent Secretary Dr. Frank Fabri is reproachable: resorting to intimidate members when their union officials and legal representative are unable to attend to their needs on the spot, does not speak much of an intention to maintain healthy industrial relations.

The UPE, on its end, did not desist in its attempt to engage in communication with MEDE, despite the disgusting way they seem to have been handling the situation. The UPE invited MEDE to continue discussing matters so as to finally come to a satisfactory conclusion, yet this invitation was disregarded to date. Quite in character with the underhanded way in which things have been happening, MEDE has opted for this judicial letter to be filed against the UPE and unprofessionally, and unethically, rendered it public, without formal notification, through a press release.

In view of the above, and with the uncertainty this agreement has brought about, the union maintains its right to defend its members at all costs, especially when it comes to their right to freedom of association. The UPE thus retains the right to issue any directive necessary to safeguard its members and to ensure that their health and safety is prioritized.

In its endeavours, the UPE has always borne in mind not only the safeguarding of its members’ rights but has also worked steadily towards striking a balance between the education of the children and the working life of our members. It is therefore preposterous to insinuate that it is intentionally being an obstruction to the educational process.

The UPE would like to put its members’ minds at rest that it will continue to safeguard its members against anything that may threaten their well-being, their health and safety, and their livelihood, and would like to reiterate that all the active directives to date will remain active until further notice. The right of affiliation to the union of one’s choice is a right enshrined within the constitution, and the UPE will not allow for its members to be brought down to their knees and be forced to accept to forfeit that right through intimidation.