The UPE welcomes the Hon. Clifton Grima as Minister of Education and Sport. We hope his appointment augurs for a strong relationship of social dialogue and common sense in industrial relations.
The Hon. Grima faces a big challenge — to restore the UPE’s trust in the Ministry and its officials after the previous administration persistently trampled upon the legitimate rights of the UPE as a trade union. The UPE was the victim of abuse by management which harassed members of staff, by giving direct orders to make union directives difficult to obey. Moreover, the Ministry showed a complete disregard of the final report published by the Ombudsman for Education.That report highlighted the fact that the union’s rights had been unequivocally compromised by the Ministry through its hindering the UPE’s access to the place of work and not allowing the union to operate within its constitutional rights.
The biggest problem that Minister Grima has inherited can be summed up in just two words – Frank Fabri. The Permanent Secretary should be under police investigation on account of the Bogdanovic affair. The right course of action is for Dr. Fabri to resign after the facts that have emerged. Given our nation’s political culture, that is not on the cards. Beyond this, the Principal Permanent Secretary, for whatever reason, seems to be unwilling to remove Dr. Fabri in terms of the Public Service Commission Regulations that allow for his immediate suspension pending investigation.
The Union is more than able and willing to work closely with the Minister’s new team in order to establish a solid working and productive relationship. We are acutely aware that Dr. Fabri’s presence at the Ministry will be detrimental to achieving that goal.