Differing recollection of union history

9th May 2008 at 01:00
While I genuinely appreciate the humorous articles on your back page, I do regret the encroachment of comedy onto the letters page with the publication of Richard Knights' letter (May 2) with its bizarre travesty of the history of the NASUWT teachers' union
While I genuinely appreciate the humorous articles on your back page, I do regret the encroachment of comedy onto the letters page with the publication of Richard Knights' letter (May 2) with its bizarre travesty of the history of the NASUWT teachers' union. While I don't wish to comment on events before my birth (though the NUT did once famously go on strike for an 11 per cent pay cut), I wonder how Mr Knights explains the fact that when I left the NUT (as so many have since done) in 1974, it claimed 450,000 members and NASUWT fewer than 60,000, but now the numbers are in practice even.

Here are a few hints. In 1974, the NUT opposed the Houghton Inquiry, which gave teachers their biggest-ever pay rise. In 1986, after the most successful period of joint action known, the NUT gave away a week of our holidays (now known as Inset days) in return for a pay rise that was swallowed up by inflation within 18 months; the NASUWT voted by over 90 per cent against this.

In the 1990s, the NUT warned that NASUWT industrial action against the KS3 Sats (the original proposals being that teachers would mark them unpaid and produce dozens of pages of evidence for the teacher-assessed level) was illegal and result in our assets being sequestrated; we won in the high court. Finally, the NUT has opposed the introduction of PPA time, the elimination of cover and the other gains from Workforce Reform over the last few years.

Mike Matejtschuk, Abingdon, Oxon.

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