Reply to the statement issued by the Secretariat of Catholic Education and Stella Maris College

This comes in reply, to the statement issued by the Secretariat of Catholic Education and Stella Maris College.

The Union is glad that the Secretariat of Catholic Education is acknowledging the fact that a problem is present within their schools, but at the same time is realising that the Secretariat was well aware of such problems well in advance of the scholastic year and is now working in a management by crisis mode.

One is to blame two factors in this saga;

1) Mr Bonnici, MUT President in an electoral promise issued while he was contesting for his presidency announced that;

“3. Fi ftit jiem niftħu n-negozjati fuq il-ftehim kollettiv tal-iskejjel tal-knisja sabiex dan jiġi nnegozjat b’mod parallel mal-ftehim settorali tal-iskejjel tal-istat. Dan isir sabiex il-ftehim settorali u dak kollettiv jiġu konklużi fl-istess żmien wara konsultazzjoni mal-membri u ħadd ma jibqa’ lura. In-negozjati jiriflettu r-realtajiet tas-settur tal-iskejjel tal-knisja filwaqt li jiġu nnegozjati u nkluzi l-gradi ġodda li nħolqu wara li ġie ffirmat l-aħħar ftehim.”

His promise is a stark contrast to reality. The Sectoral agreement was signed in December 2017 while the Church Agreement was signed eight months later at the beginning of August 2018, thus not allowing for a parallel agreement to occur as promised. Due to this situation, Church School employees have been left vulnerable to such mismanagement, thus also confirming another broken promise by MUT towards its members.

2) The Secretariat of Catholic Education, under the leadership of Fr Charles Mallia, failed its schools as it was in the Secretariat’s interest to intervene in the Sectoral agreement negotiations since it is a relevant stakeholder within the educational system. The Church is also to blame as the Union is sure that it had/has enough bargaining power to find a balance that suits both State and Church Schools.

In the case of Stella Maris College, the Union is pleased to hear that the College admits to such a breach of the Sectoral Agreement in which some teachers are well above the 25 lesson load limit. Although the management pointed out that some sort of verbal arrangement was agreed, this still is in breach of the agreement and constitutes a precedent for coming years, in which other staff members will feel obliged to accept such circumstances if approached by the management since their fellow colleagues have accepted these conditions this year.

UPE is not yet convinced that this was a tempory situation or a reaction to the article published by the Union.

With regards to Teachers being exempted from replacements, this again constitutes a discrimination on the workplace, a situation in which some animals are more equal than others. There is no mention within the Church School Agreement of exemptions of workload for these specific Teachers that the College have chosen. The only Teachers that have a reduced workload are the following, HOD’s Heads of Departments, Health & Saftey Teachers, Guidance Teachers, Teacher Librarians, Part-time Teachers, and Teachers that are over the age of 57, the Union is not contesting these exemptions but is contesting the exemptions being given to regular Teachers.

UPE is no way trying to undermine the goodwill of the Teachers within Stella Maris but is only highlighting irregularities that can be avoided if proper management is in place. If such irregularities are resolved there would be no need for the SMT (School Managment Team) to perform additional tasks for replacing teachers.

UPE is happy that the Secretariat wrote that it will continue liaising with us and are expecting an appointment from Stella Maris College to be able to do so.