The Malta Union of Teachers’ (MUT) President Marco Bonnici has not excluded that independent schools’ fees will rise, should teachers’ salary increase.
Speaking on TVM’s Xtra by Saviour Balzan on Monday, Bonnici was asked whether or not he is worried about the possibility that independent schools might raise their already high fees for admission if teachers’ salaries increase following ongoing discussions between the MUT and government.
“Obviously this will have an impact,” Bonnici said, “we have to see how the increase will be absorbed.”
The government and the Malta Union of Teachers are locked in a dispute after sectoral agreement talks failed.
No details have yet emerged in public on the union’s demands and the government’s proposal. Sources within the teaching profession said the MUT has not even communicated its own proposals to its members. The MUT has ordered industrial action that has led to the cancellation of meetings with parents, including IEP meetings for children with particular needs, and no keeping of school attendance, among others. A full-day strike is also planned for 27 November.
Speaking on Xtra, Bonnici gave no details on what the MUT is expecting from government, but stated that the union has made no less than 700 proposals.
When asked how far the union and government are to reaching an agreement, Bonnici said that, “the gap is considerable.” He further explained that if the gap was minimal, the two sides would edge closer to the other, but the MUT has not yet given government a counter-proposal, as government’s proposal was too far off from the union’s expectations.
Bonnici was also asked whether or not he believes that educators’ collective agreement should be revised after more than five years. “We should strive for a long-term vision, not a collective agreement longer than five years,” he said.
The MUT boss explained that should the collective agreements be indefinite like they were in the past, teachers would be at the mercy of government.
Also present on the programme was education minister Clifton Grima. Among other things, Grima was asked if he believes that educators have more to offer as they request higher salaries.
“It’s like we’ve been frozen in time,” Balzan stated, highlighting that schools in other countries take climate into consideration so that children’s education continues in the hotter or colder months.
“I believe that we can get more out of our education system,” Grima stated cautiously. The minister stated that this can only be achieved through a consensus.
Addressing the upcoming industrial action, Grima stated that government is currently working on a contingency plan in case an agreement isn’t reached before 27 November.