Cauld blaws frae east to west

21st January 2000 at 00:00
THERE must be something up at the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (the smallest teachers' union in Scotland, second largest in Britain) when its annual Burns Supper in Glasgow is cancelled. Lack of interest, officially.

Unofficially, many will be relieved. Haggis and knives are not best of friends and neither it seems are some union comrades.

Knives are flashing for Jack Duffy, Scottish secretary and long-standing salaries convener. Duffy, a Glasgow secondary teacher, faces a charge of bringing the NAS into disrepute. The internecine dispute has been simmering for months but comes to a head next weekend when union bosses from south of the border will hear the claim and counter-claim at a two-day hearing in Edinburgh.

Duffy is accused of making derogatory and sexist remarks towards Carol Fox, the Scottish official. A trong feminist, Fox has never endeared herself to some in the male-dominated Glasgow association, not least for moving the headquarters to Edinburgh, where she lives. All in the interests of parliamentary focus, of course.

Glasgow is the strongest association and still balks at contributing any reserves it hordes for national coffers. The poisoned atmosphere has not been helped by Tino Ferri's broad backing for Duffy. Ferri, Scottish elected representative on the UK executive and main mouthpiece north of the border, has now fallen out with Fox, although they continue to collaborate in defence of members.

A good trade unionist, although never a teacher, Fox eventually sought union advice about the domestic squabble - from the MSF, the white-collar union. "Shall brothers (and sisters) be, for a' that," as the Bard might say. Burns, not Ferri.

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