Nun is guilty of illegal sacking

The Mother Superior at the Little Sisters of the Poor faced the wrath of the industrial tribunal, along with an order to pay €1,200, after she was found guilty of unjustifiably sacking a cleaner who had worked with the nuns for 34 years.

Mary Cassar took Sister Christina Kannangara to the industrial tribunal complaining about her sacking in 2010 following decades of loyal and dedicated service.

The Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Hamrun.The Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Hamrun.

It appears that Sr Kannangara, who has since moved to Rome (the sisters rotate on a three-year basis) and Ms Cassar did not get on and there were complaints about the woman’s “attitude”.

When she was sacked, Ms Cassar was not given a proper explanation. A colleague who worked in administration and who testified in the case had offered to mediate and speak to the cleaner about the termination of her job.

34 years working for nuns

She persuaded her to resign rather than get sacked because it would have been easier for her to find another job. However, it resulted that nobody had explained to Ms Cassar that she was signing a resignation letter. In fact, she was under the impression that it was a document to get paid for her work and not a resignation letter.

Ms Cassar believed that the real reason for the termination of her employment was the fact that she had spearheaded a campaign to get all the employees to join the General Workers’ Union to have their working rights protected. However, the tribunal, presided over by George Borg Cardona, ruled that this claim had not been proven.

He pointed out that, though there were shortcomings on Ms Cassar’s side, these did not justify the termination of her employment, especially after 34 years of service.

The religious order justified its decision with the tribunal by referring to Ms Cassar’s attitude, adding that her behaviour was not desirable.

However, the tribunal upheld the cleaner’s grievance and ordered the Mother Superior to pay Ms Cassar €1,200 as compensation for her illegal sacking. She was given six weeks to effect the payment.

The Mother Superior and Sister Maria Anna Bonavia, representing the Little Sisters of the Poor, were assisted by lawyer Kris Busietta.

Ms Cassar was represented by GWU lawyer Joanne Vella Cuschieri.


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