The Union of Professional Educators (UPE) has notified the Ministry of Education that it now represents the majority of LSEs working in state schools. Supporting evidence has been sent to the Department of Industrial and Employment Relations (DIER).
The Ministry of Education cannot stall the process. The law does not give this discretion to the employer. It is abundantly clear that Learning Support Educators have placed their trust in the UPE to negotiate on their behalf.
Freedom of association is one of the basic rights enshrined in our nation’s Constitution and in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to which Malta fully adheres. The DIER as a state organ is obliged to observe this right and respect the will of the vast majority of LSEs to be represented by the UPE.
Freedom of association is a fundamental right and freedom the observance of which is not optional. The DIER has no wiggle room in this context — the fact is that the majority of LSEs no longer wish to be represented by the MUT. It really is as simple as that.
It will be a grave error if the DIER or the Ministry attempt to disregard human rights and fundamental freedoms and to ride roughshod over the will of the majority. It cannot hold educators hostage to an agreement that they do not want or to be represented by a union they have rejected.
The government has many times stated that the will of the people is of utmost importance.
The Union awaits patiently together with its members for the DIER to initiate the verification process and to confirm that the UPE has the majority of Learning Support Educators working in state schools.
If the government really listens to the people as it claims, it will ensure that those who are directly affected by such a decision will truly appreciate its commitment to our democratic values.