Ten teachers, five of whom have since retired, have filed a judicial protest claiming that the granting of an ex-gratia pension in recent weeks to a number of less senior colleagues, amounted to unjust and discriminatory treatment in their regard.
The group filed the judicial act against the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, the Family Minister, and the respective permanent secretaries within the latter two ministries.
The protesting parties, who had been engaged in the public service, some even as far back as 1976, were officially appointed as public officers in January 1980. A second group of teachers had been appointed in February of that same year which meant that the latter enjoyed a lesser degree of seniority.
However, all throughout their working life, both groups had enjoyed equal employment rights in terms of salary and other conditions of work.
Nonetheless, it transpired that in recent weeks, members of the second group had received an ex-gratia treasury pension and lump sum normally given to public officers engaged before January 15, 1979. This payment followed a call issued by the Finance Ministry for a “once only grant for persons who on officially joining the public sector after January 16, 1979, had worked in government departments before 1979.”
The more senior teachers had aired their grievance before the Ombudsman who, in April, had instructed them to write to the permanent secretary within the Social Affairs Ministry requesting equal treatment to their less senior colleagues.
However, the reply they received stated that they did not deserve to be treated “like them” since they had not been in employment in the public service prior to January 1979 before starting their university course, whereas the other teachers had allegedly satisfied this requisite.
The protesting parties were not given the opportunity of proving their claim and a judicial letter which they addressed to the permanent secretary within the Family Ministry remained unanswered.
In their judicial protest, the aggrieved teachers informed the court that the scheme offered by the Finance Minister made it obligatory for anyone accepting a grant thereunder to renounce to any pretended right and to withdraw any legal action against the government relative to pension claims.
The protestants declared that they intended to apply for the grant without any prejudice to their rights at law, pending further information regarding the scheme.
The parties finally called upon the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, the Family Minister and the respective permanent secretaries within the latter two ministries to ensure that they are given equal treatment and to avoid unjust and discriminatory acts in their regard.
Lawyers Ian Spiteri Bailey and Victoria Cuschieri signed the judicial protest.
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