More directives have been issued by the Union of Professional Educators (UPE) as part of its industrial action intended to pressure the government to move schools online.
As of today, UPE members in state and Church schools have been ordered to work to rule (ie. work to the letter of their job description) and not do any voluntary or extra work within the school. Primary school educators have been instructed not to accept any changes to their existing timetable or work schedule and kindergarten teachers have been ordered not to give lessons to students above the age of three who aren’t wearing a mask or visor, unless they have sensory issues.
LSEs must not accept any replacement lesson but are to remain in their class assisting other students as per their job description, while LSEs who are currently working as kindergarten relievers must remain in class as LSEs.
The UPE has repeatedly called for schools to return online in the wake of a surge in COVID-19 cases and has pledged to escalate industrial action to the point of ordering an educators’ strike.
However, the Education Ministry has warned it considers these directives to be null and void because the Malta Union of Teachers, and not the UPE, enjoys legal rights over the teaching sector.
Sansone has contested this, referring to a 2019 court judgement which overturned a warrant of prohibitory injunction filed by the MUT to stop the UPE issuing directives for its educator members.
Yesterday, the UPE held a meeting with the Education Ministry’s permanent secretary to discuss whether schools should remain open but the union said it was only given “vague responses”.
“The ministry blamed the Health Authorities, saying that it is ultimately their remit to take the decision, and likewise from their end, the Health Authorities brushed off all form of responsibility on the matter onto the Ministry of Education,” Sansone said.
“This endless game of ping pong should not be happening, especially when it is the health and safety of thousands of people that is at stake.”
“The UPE has not stopped following the COVID situation internationally, and has noticed that in countries with a lower infection rate than the one we currently have, a state of emergency was called, schools were closed physically, and lessons were moved online.”
“Why then is it that our educational system does not seem to have a plan B in place ready to be implemented to help resolve, at least in part, the national crisis we have at hand? Why wait longer when the current system has already failed so many?”
Lovin Malta has reached out to Fabri to ask for his response to the UPE’s claims.