The interests of historical accuracy compel me to point out that the National Union of Teachers' strike last week was not the "first for 21 years", as widely reported. The last national teachers' strike on pay was organised by the NASUWT teachers' union on April 4, 1990, 18 years ago. It was in protest at the decision of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government to phase an award of the interim advisory committee (IAC), set up after Kenneth Baker, the former education secretary, abolished negotiating rights in 1987. John MacGregor, Education Secretary, decided to phase the recommended 9.3 per cent into two stages, reducing the value of the award below the rate of inflation for classroom teachers.
The NUT strike is the first under the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), which succeeded the IAC in 1991. Whatever the imperfections of the STRB, they are insignificant when set alongside the dismal record of the Burnham Committee's "free collective bargaining" from 1918 to 1987.
Nigel de Gruchy, Former general secretary, the NASUWT teachers' union, Orpington, Kent.