Updated at 11.55am with MUT video

The Teachers’ Union has stormed out of a mediation meeting with the Education Authority over a planned strike for Monday, after the Prime Minister told reporters that the government was prepared to withdraw a controversial reform.

Union president Marco Bonnici told reporters that an emergency meeting of the union’s council had been called for this afternoon to discuss the government’s commitment to withdraw its planned reform if the strike was cancelled.

Earlier on Friday, Dr Muscat said that the government was prepared to withdraw its proposals to change the Education Act if the MUT called off its strike.

The Prime Minister said he was “surprised” that the union had not yet taken up the offer.

At a press conference held some time later, the MUT's Mr Bonnici said it was “unacceptable” that the Prime Minister had disclosed what was being discussed during a conciliation meeting “moments after” it had been raised.

Asked whether the union would still strike despite the possible withdrawal of the reform, Mr Bonnici said this would be discussed by the council.

He added however that the union was frustrated by the government’s approach on the matter.

WATCH: Teachers' warrants are 'not VRT tests', says Education Minister

“We are protesting the way we are being treated,” Mr Bonnici said when asked what teachers would be striking against if proposals were withdrawn.

Educators’ unions have come out strongly against a proposal to introduce an element of continuous assessment into the teachers' warrant system, saying the changes would mean the warrant would no longer be permanent.

Marco Bonnici speaking to the press. Video: Mark Zammit Cordina

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo has insisted that the government is not out to deny any teacher their warrant.

The MUT has also accused the government of not consulting it before unveiling the changes.

On Friday, Dr Muscat denied that and said that the government had met with the MUT during a consultation period. Minutes of those meetings made no mention of MUT concerns about changes to the warranting system, he said. 

Going forward, Dr Muscat said, all ministers would be taking note of “every single” concern discussed at consultation meetings, to ensure they were all documented.

He expressed hope that the MUT would call off its threatened strike.

“This strike will not affect me as Prime Minister,” Dr Muscat said. “It will affect thousands of families and children across the country”.

Teachers 'not trusted' - PN

The Nationalist Party has taken teachers' side in the stand-off, saying they were de-motivated and not trusted by the government. “They are not even trusted to make their own photocopies,” the PN quipped.

The government was radically changing the teaching profession without consulting teachers, the PN said.

The government is also destroying important principles in the teaching profession. Vague criteria would lead to abuse of power, the PN warned.

University lectures in solidarity with MUT

The University of Malta Academic Staff (UMASA) said it had “serious concerns” about the proposed act.

While showing solidarity with the MUT, the organisation said it was concerned about the lack of clear parameters on the granting of warrants.

Meaningful consultation requires that the opinions of stakeholders are taken on board not simply brushed aside, it insisted.

Government created ‘confusion and uncertainty’- PD

The Democratic Party lambasted the government for creating confusion and uncertainty in “one of the most delicate professions”.

The minister tried to place the blame on MUT, asking them not to close doors which were open for discussions, the PD said. 

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us