Teachers at government and Church schools could once again resort to industrial action after discussions between their union and the government on a new collective agreement collapsed.

Sources said discussions between the Malta Union of Teachers and the Industrial Relations Unit had stalled, with the union declaring its mistrust in the unit, tasked by the government to negotiate collective agreements.

The MUT council is scheduled to meet Thursday (today) to decide the way forward, which sources said could include industrial action at government and Church schools, as well as the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology and the Institute for Tourism Studies.

The union wrote to members earlier this week, informing them of its mistrust in the IRU which it said was not committed to concluding MUT agreements in a timely manner and to the satisfaction of the MUT and its members.

“To this effect, and since negotiations are based on trust, the MUT is declaring its mistrust in the government’s negotiations arm,” the MUT told its members.

When contacted on Wednesday, MUT president Marco Bonnici confirmed that a council meeting had been convened to decide on a way forward.

“MUT council is being convened [today] to discuss the way forward. The situation affects all three agreements: sectoral, MCAST and ITS,” he said.

Talks on the new collective agreement have been ongoing since December 2022.

However, last year, Bonnici accused the government of having failed to keep its electoral promise to substantially improve the working conditions of educators.

He was referring to a statement by Prime Minister Robert Abela before the 2022 general election when he had promised to “significantly strengthen” teachers’ salaries if Labour was re-elected.

Following the breakdown in discussions last November, the union had issued a set of directives to teachers and educators in all Church and state schools. Directives included not carrying out class assessments, refraining from meeting parents and submitting attendance sheets.

The industrial action culminated in a one-day strike on November 27, 2023. Abela had told teachers that their strike would not get them anywhere. 

Following the suspension of industrial action, talks resumed and were proceeding well, sources close to the sector told Times of Malta.

Last month, Education Minister Clifton Grima told the media that the collective agreement for state and Church school educators was still being discussed and that it was set to be concluded “in the coming weeks”.

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