New teachers' union to be set up, amid claims of 'betrayal'

Former members have been wanting to set up own union since April - MUT

Updated at 1.35pm with MUT president's comments

A new union for educators is being set up, amid disagreements over a new collective agreement, the UĦM - Voice of the Workers said.

It said in a statement on Wednesday that a group of educators will embark on the registration process of the new union, which is to be called Union of Professional Educators (UPE) – Voice of the Workers.

They are Rita Catania, David Rossi and George Debono, three former MUT council members who said on Tuesday that they had resigned from the union because they learnt about certain aspects of the new collective agreement for teachers from the media.

They said the council was never presented with a complete printed version of the agreement.

Read: MUT and Education Ministry sign agreement

Teachers feel “betrayed” by their own union after the publication of an agreement with the government revealed that they would not be getting the sort of pay raise they were promised.

The UĦM said the need for such a union was felt at the request of many Maltese educators. It would ensure a strong representation of their interests and provide services to members.

It said it would provide more details later.

MUT press conference

Meanwhile, in a news conference held this afternoon, MUT president Marco Bonnici said Ms Catania, Mr Rossi and Mr Debono had been aiming to set up their own union since August.

They had been putting spokes in the MUT’s wheels during council meetings and leaking information to the negotiators who would already know what the council would have discussed.

The MUT had even asked the department to investigate one, who skipped lessons saying she had MUT work. This, Mr Bonnici said, had never been approved by the union.

Mr Bonnici said the union never issued figures but percentages, in line with a government directive. The figures that had been leaked to the media were leaked by the government.

"We only had one copy of the agreement and that copy was not leaked," he said as he asked the government to investigate where the leak came from.

He promised to never in future agree to speak about percentages since these could be interpreted differently by different people.

One of the issues that teachers raised with the Times of Malta was that in a questionnaire sent by the union last year, they were asked whether they agreed to a 14 per cent increase in the first year. However, it now transpired that not everyone would benefit from this increase.

Mr Bonnici said that as was common practice, the 14 per cent was the maximum increase that some of the teachers would be getting, however, in the long run, the rest would get more than 14 per cent over five years (see photo).

He was also asked whether the percentages and figures announced by the union include an increment for State employees that was agreed upon earlier last year. He said the increase was encompassing – it included the increases agreed upon in the collective and the sectoral agreements.

Read: Teachers say union signed agreement behind their backs


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