A simple courtesy meeting between the Labour Party and the Malta Union of Teachers would be nothing to write home about in normal times – but of course, these are not normal times.
Today’s prescheduled meeting took place a day after the MUT called for schools to remain physically closed for the upcoming scholastic year in light of a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“The MUT is not satisfied that the implementation of measures proposed for schools will effectively protect the health and safety of all concerned,” the union said.
“There are still too many unanswered questions by employers, and the risk of having a spike in new COVID-19 cases with disastrous consequences as soon as schools reopen is real.”
PL media house ONE News reported the meeting with the title ‘An agreement in principle between the PL and MUT that schools should reopen’ and this ‘agreement’ wasn’t explained in the article.
Many people naturally assumed that MUT had backtracked on the hardline position they had taken the previous day.
“MUT changes it’s mind so quickly,” one woman commented. “Take a decision in the best interest of children and their families because now is not the time to open schools.”
“I’ve grown sick of telling you that you shouldn’t appease or trust the MUT because they’re all sellouts,” another man said.
The MUT then published a statement to clarify what it really meant when it said it ‘agreed in principle’ with the reopening of schools.
“We would like to clarify that ‘principle’ in this sense refers to the ultimate goal, which is obviously that schools should reopen normally with all the necessary health and security safeguards,” it said.
“Today’s meeting with PL officials is different than the ongoing negotiations with the government. The MUT holds regular meetings with political parties to discuss educational issues; on the other hand, negotiations take place with the Ministry, the Director and employers.”
Sensing a potential bruise being dealt to their political adversaries, PN media NET News jumped in with: “MUT calls PL media out for lying’.
“After the PL media published fake news about an agreement between the Teachers’ Union and the Labour Party on the reopening of schools, the MUT has clarified that it doesn’t negotiate with the PL but with the Education Ministry,” it wrote.
Following this, the MUT felt it had to issue a second statement, this time to reiterate that its position on the reopening of schools hasn’t changed since yesterday and to urge people not to politicise the education sector during these difficult times.
Lovin Malta’s show Kaxxaturi has raised over €7,500 to mount a court case against Malta’s party-owned TV stations, arguing that political coverage by ONE and NET goes against the Constitution, the right to freedom of information, and the basic rules of fair competition.
The Constitution demands impartiality from news and current affairs broadcasts and party media have historically attempted to circumvent it by arguing that ONE and NET cancel each other out.
However, the Broadcasting Authority’s CEO said in her thesis that this argument doesn’t hold water.