Educators at MCAST have been temporarily prohibited from proceeding with industrial actions, including a set of directives and two strikes which were planned for later today and tomorrow, until the case is heard in court next week. Yesterday afternoon, the Malta Union of Teachers was in fact slapped with a prohibitory warrant filed by MCAST against the MUT. This was upheld provisionally in court and therefore industrial actions have been suspended pending the court’s decision.
Addressing the media in front of MCAST main gate in Paola, flanked by Union officials, delegates and members, MUT President Marco Bonnici stated that “this is a clear manifestation that MCAST is trying to silence us and obstruct the Union’s legitimate work in the interest of members. Moreover, such an unprecedented action by a leading educational institution provides the worst possible message to both educators and to students who value the freedom of association and representation and the fundamental right to manifest dissent through their representative body”.
The MUT President stated that this is just the start and MUT will take all actions to ensure that educators obtain the best agreement possible, which for the MUT means to bring MCAST lecturers’ working conditions in line with other Post-Secondary institutions such as the Junior College.
“It is not true that the MUT has issued industrial actions out of the blue, as MCAST is saying, as the Union has been in dispute with the college for almost two months and despite all goodwill manifested with a series of decisions taken by MUT, we have concluded that there is no goodwill from MCAST to work on an appropriate set of conditions for educators. The reasons given by MCAST for the prohibitory warrant are just excuses to divert from the real issues.”
The MCAST Collective Agreement expired in December 2016 and the new Union administration re-activated negotiations in July 2017, with meetings held regularly during the past months. On 9th November 2017, the MUT had issued an ultimatum to MCAST following a request for the submission of financials in September. Many meetings on this issue were held but no positive outcome regarding the financials was forthcoming from MCAST. In view of this, the Union declared a trade dispute with MCAST on 28th November and ordered industrial action consisting of directives and a strike. On 7th December, the MUT lifted the strike but kept the directives to make sure discussions on financial proposals do not slow down again. On 4th January, the MUT also suspended directives for one week after a conciliation meeting with the Directorate of Employment. However, following a number of meetings with an unsatisfactory outcome, the MUT re-issued directives on 19th January and announced 2 hours of strike for Thursday 25 and Friday 26 January. The union attended another conciliation meeting held on 23rd January, but the outcome was also unsatisfactory. The temporary prohibitory warrant was issued yesterday 24th January.