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MUT portrayed jacuzzi situation inaccurately, says Education Ministry

'Accusations have no scientific or rational basis'

The Malta Union of Teachers “portrayed the situation inaccurately” when it said that a jacuzzi in the Helen Keller Resource Centre was putting students and educators at risk, Education Ministry permanent secretary Frank Fabri said.

At a press conference last week, the MUT claimed that a jacuzzi used for educational purposes was too small to cater for educators and students.

MUT president Marco Bonnici also alleged that there were risks of water contamination. The centre said that the water was tested once a week but failed to provide further details, Mr Bonnici said, noting that the water had failed “essential tests in the past”.

The Education Ministry retaliated by insisting that the water in the bath was tested every day and that records of the tests were placed on a notice board in the resource centre.

Mr Bonnici also said changing students in the jacuzzi caused problems, since they needed to be lifted out of the bath, cleaned and changed by two other educators.

This meant that other students were being denied an additional two educators.

In his reply, Dr Fabri said that the two additional staff members assist the students as necessary.

“It is unacceptable that the accusations put forward have no scientific or rational basis,” he said, adding that scientific tests had repeatedly shown that there were no problems with the jacuzzi.

The Education Ministry was willing to accept that the MUT would certify the water, insofar as the tests were done by an independent entity.

Mr Bonnici told the Times of Malta that the teachers’ union would not make plans to test the water, because a court prohibitory injunction by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) stopped them from issuing work directives.

“It is neither within the remit of the school nor of the union to test the water,” Mr Bonnici said.

“The union is not convinced of testing done to date.”

The prohibitory warrant was criticised by Dr Bonnici, who said that the union was concerned that the CRPD had tried to silence educators through court actions.

The commission said that it did not wish to shut educators up, adding that its intervention was aimed at giving a voice to the voiceless.

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