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No vote for Nigel

NEW YEAR'S greetings to Nigel de Gruchy, leader of the awkwardly-titled NASUWT union, who - if all goes according to plan - will be able to serve out the years to his retirement untroubled by union elections.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers wants to adopt part of the 1992 Trade Union Act which means general secretaries within five years of retirement do not need to stand for re-election when their current five-year term is up.

Nigel will be 56 in four weeks' time, and is due for re-election in April 2000. If he were to get back in he would have to resign in 2003.

Not wanting to hide their leader's light under a bushel, the notice of the proposed changes to members says the rules should be amended "in order to allow the association to benefit from provisions" in the Act - ie to benefit from an extra three years of Nigel.

Or the union could be referring to the shedloads of cash it would save by not holding an election next year. An NASUWT spokesman says any contested election would cost around Pounds 60,000.

Ah, but would it be contested? "It would be entirely inappropriate for any paid member of staff to express any opinion," we are told.

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