I named this website 'The Spirit of the Law' because I am forever taken aback by how the Maltese powers that be use the letter of the law to defile its spirit. I am forever horrified by how - in Malta - the law is used - as a matter of course - to pervert the course of justice. This is not to say that this is exclusively a Maltese characteristic – it’s just that to the trained eye it is especially pervasive and brazen in Malta.
Today, this blog will refer to the anomalous situation many teachers working in all Maltese schools in all sectors find themselves in.
At the heart of this situation is the fact that teachers of greater teaching experience earn less than teachers of lesser teaching experience. How teachers find themselves in this situation - the whys and wherefores - is surely unimportant. It is despicable that employers quote agreements of questionable legality to justify this discrimination.
I was not surprised to recently discover that one of my teachers who taught me in the early 80s earns less than I do now, even though her teaching career is longer than mine. She is two or so years away from retirement, so will never reach the top of the Teacher Salary Scale, if the current injustice is allowed to prevail.
For teachers in this situation, the loss in earnings over decades is substantial.
In our case, we – a family of 5 – were meant to live on 300 euro per month after rent and the Arms bill, on the incorrectly applied summer residence tariff. If I had been paid correctly, our disposable income after rent and utilities would have been about 900 euro. Can you imagine what this does to your quality of life? To the dreams and aspirations that you have for your children? The 2016 Caritas study on poverty posited that a family of 2 adults and 2 children needs a minimum of 953 euro per month to be able to live a minimum existence. This assumed that this family lived in social accommodation, with housing costs of 17 euro per month (200 euro per year). So, officially speaking, we were living in poverty. We needed three times our disposable income to be officially out of poverty. Three times - 300%.
How can a worker - a tertiary educated teacher – be classed as living in poverty? If I had been paid correctly, then we would still be classed as poor but not by a margin of 300%. This is a gross breach of the fundamental human right to family life, to be treated with dignity as a human being, to be paid fairly for your labour...
How can it be possible that the state propagates these breaches of fundamental human rights? How can it be possible that the state is responsible for discriminating against you and getting the benefit of your teaching experience on the cheap?
Like me, there will be many other teachers in similar situations. How many teachers in this situation choose to limit their families to one or two children, when they would like more? How many pinch and squeeze their way, with great difficulty, to the end of the month? How many endure sleepless nights, worrying about how they were going to pay that unexpected bill? How many endure mental health issues?
Instead of the various entities lancing the boil of this injustice once and for all, we have instead an admission that this is unjust, but only for teachers moving EU member state post 2013 or state school teacher moving state school post 2013 or teachers moving licensed school from whichever sector post 2015.
The problem with resolving this injustice in such a piecemeal fashion is that you will compound the injustice for many. Teachers moving sector pre 2015, teachers moving from state school to state school pre 2013 or EU member state school to Maltese state school pre 2013 will still be discriminated against. They will continue to feel the humiliation of being regarded as second class teachers, lower tier teachers, still charged with the same duties of teachers less experienced than they, but earning less.
Powers that be – bite the bullet. Do the right thing. Stop the discrimination and stop breaching the fundamental human rights of many teachers.