The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers has been contacted by a number of Gozitan educators who work in schools in Malta. These educators have brought to the attention of the union that their commute to school on a daily basis is bound to create a great deal of disruption if the issues they have are not attended to promptly.
As things stand, at this point in time, due to the restrictions required by the Health Authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the ferries to and from Gozo are running at 50% of the capacity normally accepted on board. These educators pointed out that on a normal day the ferry is packed with workers travelling from Gozo, and that now, with the restrictions in place, and the schedule running as is, the likelihood of their not boarding the ferry on time is much higher. The consequence of such an event taking place is blatantly obvious: these educators will end up turning up late for work, thus creating disruption to the administration of the schools they work at, with children being left unattended at a time where their presence would be considered crucial.
Further to that, these educators expressed their concern at the accessibility of the vans they use, to get from the terminal to their schools. These educators would normally rent a van at 20 Euro per capita per week, however, given that even these means of transport are taking on only 50% of their usual capacity, they have been asked to pay twice as much to cover for the discrepancy in costs, thus rendering the commute to work an extremely expensive venture for these educators.
They also mentioned that getting hold of a van is never an easy task, and that with a rise in demand in vehicles due to the nationwide restrictions in place, the same van might have to take two trips to cater for educators crossing over to Malta to go to school. Here again, the implication is that these educators are likely to get to school late, with obvious repercussions on other members of staff, and the children at their schools.
Bearing their plight in mind, and the distress this is bound to cause, the UPE is forwarding the following proposals to the relevant authorities:
- At times where educators are to commute to and from work, more trips should be scheduled, with the ferry service running continuously, possibly even making use of multiple ferries at any one time. This will decrease the possibility of these educators running late on a regular basis.
- Subsidies on transport for educators should be increased to reflect the current situation as the existent subsidy cannot be considered sufficient to cater for the doubling in price these educators are going to have to face.
In these difficult and exceptional times, educators will inevitably be working under a great deal of stress. These issues are only further increasing the burden our Gozitan colleagues are being asked to carry, and taking on board the above proposals would remove at least some of the stress these educators are bound to experience at this point in time.