100 years and counting: The Malta Union of Teachers

Despite its heavy influence in education, MUT had also influenced other sectors including employees’ conditions of work, related legislation and the increased importance of the social dialogue model.

The Malta Union of Teachers has been the main catalyst for the establishment of the trade union movement in Malta in the post Sette Giugno era. This is evidenced in the documented historical anecdotes throughout its 100 years where MUT had a central influence in all major decisions which have been taken in education in Malta.

Despite its heavy influence in education, MUT had also influenced other sectors including employees’ conditions of work, related legislation and the increased importance of the social dialogue model. MUT’s contribution was never confined to our islands but its participation in International and European fora is well documented.

MUT’s dual roles of a trade union and a professional organisation were at times interchangeable but always present. MUT’s decisions even in the most difficult situations have been taken by seeking the right balance between both roles. Most noticeably, and in contrast with other educators’ unions which have been established and dissolved in the past hundred years, MUT managed to reinvent itself to keep its relevance and continued to grow both in terms of membership and influence. MUT has always been a proactive union which is not afraid of change but which influences change.

Following the centenary commemorations held in the past weeks it is our duty to look ahead and to continue to implement the vision of the MUT for the coming years.

Supporting educators, supporting students

We must strive to support educators in their duties by safeguarding what has been achieved, improving conditions of work and financials. However, in doing so it is imperative that students remain at the centre of the system. Supporting educators implies supporting students and there cannot be any improved support to students by ignoring educators’ needs.

Individual vs collective

We need to resist the trend whereby the ‘I’ is more important than the ‘we’. Unfortunately individualism is being promoted in various streams with self-gratification becoming more important than the collective needs. MUT is a proof that results are achieved whenever the collective interest was sought and this principle needs to be upheld.

Leadership and standards

We need to promote the highest standards in the trade union field. MUT has a legacy based on sound ethical principles whilst ethical standards are not always present in the local trade unionistic field. As the leading union MUT needs to ensure that the highest ethical standards are maintained and promoted.

Correct vs fake information

We need to continue to provide the correct information to educators in a field where fake information divulged at times intentionally is doing rounds on various media. MUT has a fundamental duty to issue consistent and reliable information to educators as it is the union involved in all discussions and negotiations in the sector.

Common difficulties, common solutions

We need to strengthen the ties with European counterparts to share good practices. This is most relevant in seeking solutions to overcome difficulties and challenges which are experienced by different countries. Amongst these is the shortage of educators, the ongoing changes in the education policies and the challenges of multiculturalism.

Solutions not problems

We need to continue to provide solutions and not just flag problems for someone else to address. MUT has a vast expertise of members in all areas of the system and this essential resource must continue to assist the union in proposing solutions to difficulties and problems which arise.

A professional authority

Most importantly we need to be the professional authority in the education field. It is easy to moan, driven by impulsive feedback, but to lead requires authority, meaning deep knowledge of the sector. We must continue to update our knowledge of the sector and the union’s practices so as to provide the necessary direction backed by knowledge in full cognition of the needs of educators and the sector.

The post-100 years of MUT are certainly exciting and not less challenging but we are confident that the 100-year ‘baggage’ of MUT coupled with the support of members shall drive MUT to the next 100 years. The journey continues.

This article appeared on MaltaToday.

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