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UPE Files Constitutional Case against ITS, Ministry of Tourism & State Advocate

The Union of Professional Educators (UPE) has filed a constitutional case against the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS), the Ministry of Tourism as well as the State Advocate after the ongoing saga at ITS failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion following letters intimating disciplinary action against members of staff for allegedly having followed UPE directives.

The UPE has tried its best to resolve the stand-off; in fact, as recently as 30 November 2022, UPE notified ITS that it had withdrawn all of its directives in an attempt to find a way forward. Unfortunately, the CEO at ITS, Mr Pierre Fenech, insisted that it is “impossible to stall the disciplinary procedures as they relate to a consummated action, performed by certain members of the ITS staff.”

ITS has based its argument on clause 38 of the collective agreement signed between ITS and MUT wherein

“The management and the union agreed that unofficial industrial action is detrimental to both the institute and the union and as such is not to be supported. It is agreed that any academic/s who organise/s and/or take/s part in any unofficial industrial action, shall be liable to disciplinary action which may lead to dismissal. ‘Unofficial industrial action’ is any type of industrial action not initiated by the recognised union.” 

The UPE subsequently filed a trade dispute on the 9 November 2022, since clause 38 is deemed to be unconstitutional and goes against the basic freedom that workers have to be affiliated with a union of their choice [CONSTITUTION OF MALTA – Art. 42 – Protection of freedom of assembly and association. Amended by: LVIII.1974.13].

Despite several attempts by the Union to find an equitable solution, ITS management has mistakenly continued to insist that they are following SL452.112.5:

“Once a union is recognized as the sole collective bargaining union, no other union may intervene on a collective matter relating to the employees concerned with the employer, and conversely, no employer shall discuss collective matters relating to the employees concerned with a union other than the recognized union.”

What ITS has conveniently ignored is that the UPE being the minority union does not issue directives on a collective basis, but it issues directives only to its members. 

It is our belief that the legal stalemate could have been resolved if discussions had taken place in with goodwill, but this has not been the case because of the intransigence shown by ITS despite the withdrawal of directives. 

True to its core values, the UPE has the duty to protect its members at ITS and has decided to initiate legal action. 

The first court sitting is scheduled to be held on 14 December 2022. 

Dr Franco Debono, Dr Marion Camilleri & Dr David Camilleri are representing the UPE.

malta and European union flag

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