There is a lot of noise in the foreground. Journalists taking offence. Libel suits flying all over the place. Noise and yet more noise. Meanwhile, the raping and pillaging of Malta continues. The many questions on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia remain unanswered. One group of journalists keeping mum about stories critical of the current administration, and the other not. It’s wearying. Journalists should be doing their job in the background, not the foreground. They shouldn’t be the story. Not in eventful and tragic 2019 Malta.
Meanwhile, my salary issue has also moved to the foreground. No, it’s not just personal. This goes beyond PN / PL, beyond October 2017 or March 2013. It goes back decades. Our justice system – not fit for purpose. Our administrative systems – not fit for purpose. Our law writers – cynical and politically captured. Most Maltese unions – eunuchs shafting their members.
Article 27 of the 2002 Employment and Industrial Relations Act tells us that
Employees in the same class of employment are entitled to the same rate of remuneration for work of equal value
It then goes on to qualify this:
Provided that an employer and a worker or a union of workers as a result of negotiations for a collective agreement, may agree on different salary scales, annual increments and other conditions of employment that are different for those workers who are employed at different times, where such salary scales have a maximum that is achieved within a specified period of time;
In other words, employees in the same class of employment are only entitled to the same rate of remuneration for work of equal value IF the union and employer do not decide otherwise.
I’d like to know the names of the lawyers who wrote this dastardly clause, so that I could bend their ears. What on earth possessed them to even think this clause was a good idea? Would the Maltese Constitutional Court strike this abusive clause off the statute books, I wonder? I’d like to think so.
So we have some unions in Malta treating this clause with the contempt it deserves. And then we have the other unions, amongst them the MUT.
In any one school all over Malta you have anomalies caused by the MUT applying this clause in various agreements with MEDE and the Secretariat for Church schools. Currently we have state to church and state to state mobile teachers having their pre 2013 prior teaching experience recognized and arrears post 2013 reimbursed. We then have pre 2013 church to state, independent to state, state to independent, church to independent mobile teachers who do not have their pre 2013 prior teaching experience recognized and no arrears post 2013 reimbursed. Post 2015 mobile teachers have their prior teaching experience recognized. You also have unqualified supply teachers stuck on Salary Scale 12 for decades and LSEs with various anomalies and discrimination in their salary and conditions. It’s a horror show. And all in a teacher recruitment crisis. My own Teacher of Physics who taught me Physics in the 80s is on a lower salary scale than I am because, when she returned to service after having a career break to have her family, she was placed on Salary Scale 9 Increment 1, just as though she were a newly qualified teacher.
The state to state and church to state mobile teachers are in a better position than all pre 2013 mobile teachers because of two EU to Malta mobile teachers. The first teacher was responsible for the 2013 MUT / MEDE agreement.
The second teacher was yours truly. I am responsible for the 2016 MEDE / Church agreement.
You see, the partial resolution of the discrimination against some Malta mobile teachers only came about because of two EU mobile teachers insisting on their rights under EU law. So effectively we have the application of EU law having the effect of partially resolving a parallel Maltese injustice not under the jurisdiction of the EU.
You'd think that people would be cheering the EU because of this, wouldn't you? All these mobile teachers partly getting their dues now. Look - the malevolent state getting its comeuppance. Isn't that brilliant? The little person chipping away at the implacability of the malevolent state.
I don't see much evidence of cheering. The malevolent Maltese state has been grinding down the little Maltese person for decades. And yet, when that veneer of indifference of the Maltese state to the lot of the common man is slightly tarnished, we have no eruptions of joy, no renewed hope.
Is it Stockholm syndrome? Is it the abused – and, boy, are the Maltese citizens and residents abused – siding with the abusers, the defilers of the Maltese justice system?
Instead we have a closing of ranks around the dysfunction. It is as though the devil we know is preferable to the angel we don't know.
Instead it is considered traitorous to dare quote your rights under EU law in a Maltese court of law. You might upset the judge. Or the Attorney General. You see, we have a parallel dimension of justice in Malta. We cannot let EU law diminish the autonomy of this alternative justice system. That would be traitorous. Even though when we joined the EU we promised to uphold EU law. Leave us be to illegally underpay our workers as much as we like.
There’s more. In March 2019, the NCPE – the Maltese entity designated by the EU to deal with EU freedom of movement issues – ruled in my favour re the 2010 to 2013 arrears due to me. MEDE has not even acknowledged receipt of the judgement. So I’m having to take this to court. If I win the upcoming court case, then all pre 2013 state to state and church to state mobile teachers will also win.
But does it have to come to this? Is this justice? No one is stopping MEDE doing the right thing and giving ALL teachers their proper dues. How shameful that the teaching profession is treated in this way.
Why should the serving of justice have to wait for EU mobile teachers to exercise their rights under EU law? Why should some professions have unions that do not sign away their members' right to equal pay for equal work whilst other unions do? What rationale is there behind this grotesque behaviour? Is it that the state thinks it can behave like this towards the teaching profession but not the medical profession, for example?
And - the most important question of all - why on earth do the workers allow this state of affairs to continue? What are they being held hostage to? Is this the promised land of "l-aqwa żmien"?
A few days ago we received the news that my late father’s circa 29 000 euro salary underpayment by Enemalta will now be paid to his heirs. Bittersweet, really. Why should we enjoy the fruit of his labour after he has passed away? Why shouldn’t HE have enjoyed the use of the money that he worked for in his lifetime?
Justice is arbitrary in Malta. It’s hit and miss justice; mostly miss. For example, the criminal court took 12 years to order two contractors to pay 4 000 euro each in damages to the family of Mrs. Vella who died in the rubble of her own home when this collapsed because of excavation works on the house next door.
Wouldn’t it be great if our courts of law administered true justice in a timely manner? So many different problems would be solved at a stroke. If any person or entity had to pay prohibitive amounts of compensation for abusive and illegal behavior in a timely manner, wouldn’t this act as a huge deterrent?
Impunity is defined as “the exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action” (dictionary.com). We’ve had such impunity in Malta for decades.
Look at where this impunity has brought us. Would the recent victims of the three collapsing blocks of flats have been spared their trauma if the contractors in the Vella case were ordered to pay more substantial damages within months - not (twelve) years - of their horrific negligence?
Isn’t it damning that so many victims of abusive and illegal state and non state behavior decide not to pursue justice in our courts of law because they know that they will not be served justice?
I think this is the crux of the many problems in Malta.
I began my fight against the discrimination of the state against me – a teacher exercising her right to EU freedom of movement and treatment equal to that of host nationals – in 2015. My correspondence with Kevin Bonello’s MUT, MEDE, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Secretariat for Catholic Education, the NCPE…, makes a considerably hefty file. At every point of this correspondence, I was told to give up because I would have to pay hefty legal costs for nothing. I was exposed to the complete ignorance of ALL the powers that be of employment law and EU law.
Four years later and I’ve had two victories:
1) In January 2017 I was placed on the correct point of the civil service salary scale and the salary underpayment due to me from the period September 2013 to December 2016 was reimbursed.
2) A few months ago, the NCPE recommended that the arrears due to me from the period September 2010 to September 2013 should also be paid to me.
In the light of the NCPE judgement, my lawyer asked MEDE to pay the still outstanding arrears due to me. I’ve heard not a whisper. Silence from all the entities involved in this illegal and disgraceful behavior. The illegal behaviour of the state, to boot. The state behaving illegally.
So what are my next steps? I’m cogitating and deliberating as some foodie TV presenter used to say. I’ll think of something – I always seem to.
But everybody concerned needs to understand that yes, I want MY money. Today. Not when I’m dead. So that I can use MY money to do up MY house so that MY children will have a comfortable life with the money that I worked for. So even if it means that I have to take MEDE to court and pay the legal and court costs that they were so worried about on my behalf, I will. And then I will sue for damages and costs, all the way up to the European Court of Human Rights. It takes as long as it takes – I will do it.
Oh, and also my teacher colleagues whose cases are slightly different from mine – they also have a case. And when I win, they also will win. Because the Maltese constitution – no less – prohibits law that discriminates.
I never imagined in a million years that I would have to fight these kinds of battles when I returned to Malta in 2010. Never. These are fundamental human rights that people are being denied. Shame on all involved in the denial of timely and true justice. Look at the atmosphere of impunity you have all helped to create in one way or another.