Updated 5pm, adds MUT statement

The Union of Professional Educators warned it would report the government to European Health and Safety authorities for difficult and deplorable working conditions.

Learning Support Educators were getting badly injured at work after being made to lift children daily, the UPE said.

Speaking in front of the Education Ministry in a Floriana, UPE President Graham Sansone said LSEs were required to lift 27 kilograms everyday. This was far too much and was leading to injuries at work, he said.

According to the job description handbook, the Education Ministry and the Occupational Health and Safety Standards Authority should have reviewed work standards every two years since 2007.

However, Mr Sansone believes these reports have not been done since they did not receive a copy of the reports when they asked for them.

“This sorry state of affairs begs the question of whether the current inaction could be the result of OHSA being understaffed or MEDE forgetting to request the reports,” the union said.

The union called for a higher number of LSEs that would be available to lift one child if they were over 27 kilograms and an immediate review of the current policy.

“If the union will not see any positive change in line with European labour practices, it will have no option but to notify the European Agency for Safety and Health at work of the deplorably situation our LSEs find themselves in,” Mr Sansone said.

The union was receiving around two reports of injuries from LSEs weekly, Mr Sansone said, adding it was not dismissing the possibility of industrial action.

Some schools have the equipment to carry children but many mainstream schools do not, he added.

In a statement, the Malta Union of Teachers said it was currently revising job descriptions for all grades where it had recognition, including for LSEs.

It said it had created working groups who made lists of proposed changes and was currently finalising discussions with the ministry. Meetings with the directorate were scheduled accordingly.

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