Days of militancy are over

12th May 1995 at 01:00
(Photograph) - Hilary Wilce has less to worry about than she thinks (TES, April 30). There is never going to be a return to the prolonged national pay strikes by teachers which hugely damaged the education of thousands of children in the 1980s.

One only has to see the struggle Doug McAvoy is putting up to prevent NUT members from adopting a strike policy at this time to see why. He knows that his union's tenuous hold on its many thousands of moderate members will not survive a repetition of 1980s militancy. It makes me smile to read of Doug's attack on the strike weapon in this day and age. His speeches read exactly like mine 10 years ago.

The truth is that the sort of teacher militancy which caused such havoc in the 1980s is a thing of the past. Some unions now talk a big war from time to time, but they will not fight one. Threats of one-day strikes over school funding, or sending some children to work in the school library if classes are too large, are just peanuts.

Most teachers want to use more professional ways of expressing their deepest concerns than by bringing education to a halt and claiming it is for a noble cause. The sooner all unions surrender their Semtex and adopt peaceful persuasion as the way ahead, the better it will be for the next generation of teachers and pupils. The force of argument must prevail over the argument of force.

PETER DAWSON

Former general secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers (1980-1992) 72 The Ridings Ockbrook, Derby

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