Monday, December 29, 2014, 16:04
The Malta Union of Teachers said today that it had had a fruitful meeting with Bishop Charles Scicluna, administrator of the Maltese archdiocese, about a draft document on the engagement of staff in Church schools, and as a result directives of industrial action in Church schools have been suspended.
Earlier this month the MUT and the Malta Humanist Association (MHA) expressed concern over reports that heads of Catholic schools were being asked by the archdiocese to discuss new terms of employment, which terms would guarantee that schools’ head teachers and other staff could be safely considered as “practising Catholics” – or face disciplinary action if their “life choices give scandal or ran counter to the ethos of the school”.
The union had said that the confidential document would reportedly preclude staff members who "do not adhere in their substantive life-choices to the teachings of the Catholic Church" from being selected to top school posts as well as other identified positions.
The union said today, however, that during its meeting with Mgr Scicluna and other Curia officials, it was assured that the Church had no intention to judge or discriminate among its employees on the basis of their private life.
There would be no investigations on the private lives of teachers, although it was agreed that the teachers should conform to their professional code of ethics and the ethos of their schools.
The union said it agreed that Church schools should continue to promote Catholic values, while respecting workers’ rights.
The two sides agreed to hold further meetings on issues such as mobility between schools and the situation in certain schools where, the union said, the environment was not very conducive to education.
See also http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20141209/local/mut-humanists-protest-over-proposed-church-school-teachers-conditions-curia-reacts.547582 [see below]
MUT, humanists protest over proposed Church school teachers' conditions, Curia reactshttp://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20141209/local/mut-humanists-protest-over-proposed-church-school-teachers-conditions-curia-reacts.547582
Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 20:45
The MUT and the Malta Humanist Association (MHA) expressed concern today over press reports that heads of Catholic schools are being asked by the Maltese archdiocese to discuss new terms of employment, which terms would guarantee that schools’ head teachers and other staff can be safely considered as “practising Catholics” – or face disciplinary action if their “life choices give scandal or run counter to the ethos of the school”.
The Malta Union of Teachers said the confidential document will reportedly preclude staff members who "do not adhere in their substantive life-choices to the teachings of the Catholic Church" from being selected to top school posts as well as other identified positions. The document also reportedly makes it incumbent upon the individual employee to self-report if he/she enters into such life-choices and also invites prying into the private lives of church schools employees.
"This alleged document fails to draw a distinction between Church ministers and officials on the one hand and Church school employees on the other. Employment by the Church in Malta is governed by Maltese Law which clearly does not allow for such odious distinctions to regulate the selection or promotion of employees. Moreover, this alleged document is in direct contrast with the Church's teachings of inclusion and equality," the MUT said.
It hoped the Church in Malta had learnt from the bitter experience of past mistakes.
"The Malta Union of Teachers will not endorse such a document which blatantly goes counter to Maltese employment laws and practices and defies the most basic and fundamental human rights such as the right to privacy, the right to family life, inclusion and equality. If media reports are true, the church in Malta is planning to revert to the most oppressive and repressive employment practices reminiscent of the middle ages," the union said.
It called on the Church authorities to discuss this matter and bring peace of mind to its church school employees by the end of this month, failing which the Union would be taking all necessary action to protect its members.
Meanwhile, the Malta Humanist Association said the Employment and Industrial Relations Act made it clear that “discriminatory treatment" meant any distinction, exclusion, or restriction which was not justifiable in a democratic society including discrimination made on the basis of marital status, pregnancy or potential pregnancy, sex, colour, disability, religious conviction, political opinion or membership in a trade union or in an employers’ association.
"Considering what the church teaches on topics such as homosexuality, homosexual relationships, unwed parents, IVF and many others, this new policy is likely to affect such minorities - as well as requiring all such staff to be baptised Catholics. Even the requirement that staff reveal such details as their sexual orientation or marital status is a violation of that person's privacy and dignity. Employers are in fact legally prohibited from requesting such information during interviews."
The Curia in a brief statement said the document referred to was a draft that was subject to an ongoing process of internal consultation within the Church and its school authorities.
"We reserve our comments until this process is duly and freely concluded and the local Church is in a position to make public its official policies regarding its schools in view of their spiritual and religious identity and mission, in full respect of the fundamental human rights."