The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers, has been following the dire situation which EFL teachers are currently having to face in view of the closure of schools as required by the state. Much confusion has arisen as a result of these closures. The financial packages offered by the government as they stand at the moment seem to overlook most of the teachers currently working in the sector creating a scenario where these professionals have now become amongst the most vulnerable members of our society unless their situation is reviewed. This is a truly dismal situation when considering that EFL teachers have been pivotal elements in our economy, as long as it was thriving.
The Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta (FELTOM) has recently contacted its members claiming that it is now engaging in a media awareness campaign, and is putting pressure on the Government to specify the position of part-time employees with regards to eligibility to the aid already offered, and also to see an improvement in the package offered to language schools. The union cannot help but wonder where FELTOM has been in all these years, in which it should have been a driving force in setting national standards of service for its members, and ensuring that their professional identity is maintained and safeguarded.
The truth that surfaced, when it comes to the duties FELTOM claims as its own, is that for years on end it has been working hand-in-hand with the various schools and has done nothing to regulate contractual agreements which are, for all intents and purposes, illegal. Zero-hour part-time contracts seem to have been allowed to be dished out as a perfectly normal contract of employment for many years, possibly relying on the probability that nothing would have shaken the system so much that these are challenged with the aim of having some form of regulation. Now that the unimaginable has happened, FELTOM is clutching at straws in an attempt to salvage the remnants of its heavily tarnished reputation.
After years of complete disregard for teachers’ stability and financial security at work, it is now up in arms claiming that it is doing its utmost to help them out. FELTOM could never have chosen a less propitious moment to take action that the one at hand, and it is those who kept the boat afloat for so long that now are most at risk.
The information gathered for this article was quoted directly from the FELTOM website and an email sent by a local ELT school which is accredited by FELTOM. The information contained in the email may not have been directly generated by FELTOM even though speaking on its behalf. Following direct communication with FELTOM, the Union acknowledges that the information may not have been conveyed with approval from FELTOM, and apologises for any inconvenience that might have been caused.