D-day for new union leader

9th February 2001 at 00:00
Sarah Cassidy on the three contenders jostling to replace high-profile general secretary Nigel de Gruchy

OFFICIALS at Britain's second largest teaching union were today due to decide who will replace Nigel de Gruchy, their high-profile leader.

Three high-ranking officers at the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers are in the running for the job.

Mick Carney, honorary treasurer, Chris Keates, assistant secretary for policy and Eamonn O'Kane, deputy general secretary, are due to be interviewed by the union's executive today.

The executive's chosen candidate will be named today. Any member nominated by 25 branches will be free to stand against the executive's candidate in a ballot. The decision will be ratified at the union's conference.

"The smart money is on Chris Keates," said one union insider. "The safe money is on Eamonn O'Kane and the outsiders are backing Mick Carney."

Mr de Gruchy is stepping down as head of the NASUWT next year.

The 58-year-old, who has been the union's general secretary since 1990, will leave after its 2002 annual conference to become president of the Trades Union Congress. His successor will take office this Easter and spend a year working alongside Mr de Gruchy before he steps down.

His deputy Eamonn O'Kane, 55, is the front-runner to succeed him. Mr de Gruchy himself worked as deputy general secretary for eight years before taking the top job.

Chris Keaes, 49, has been assistant secretary for policy since 1999 and a member of the national executive council since 1982. Ms Keates is an ex-humanities teacher as well as the former secretary of the Birmingham NASUWT association, the union's biggest branch.

Mick Carney, 53, the honorary treasurer, is a science teacher. A former president of the union, he has been elected as honorary treasurer every year since 1992. He teaches at St Bede's comprehensive in Peterlee, County Durham.

Meanwhile, four top jobs at the Professional Association of Teachers are up for grabs.

General secretary Kay Driver is due to depart at the end of March, after nearly three years, to become chief executive of the British Horse Society. The union's council is to meet on Saturday to discuss the procedures for appointing her successor. Her deputy Jean Gemmell is tipped to replace her.

Three key officers will also be replaced this summer.

Current vice-chair Geraldine Everett moves up at the union's annual general meeting on July 30 to become its new chair. A new honorary treasurer and secretary will also be selected. The current incumbents, Barry Matthews and Noel Henderson, step down in July after completing their three-year term.

The selection process began last month and nominations closed on Wednesday. As The TES went to press it was not yet known whether more than one nomination had been received for each post - triggering an election.

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