Readers may have noticed the silence from one particular quarter following the recent teachers' pay award. For if anything is as certain as the annual April salary settlement or the spring cuckoo, it is the ritual denunciation by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers of a "sell-out" imposed by the other unions.
But this year's silence had nothing to do with approval of the
2.5 per cent deal. The union's representative in national negotiations is Jack Duffy - suspended from union duties following isciplinary hearings. When Duffy forwarded the papers for the meeting to union HQ, they seemed to have arrived too late for officials to make an appointment from the substitute's bench.
Conspiracy theorists are, of course, out in force. Did the papers fall victim to confusion, incompetence or a second-class stamp?
Comrades on the teachers' side were distraught. "We are missing the NASUWT," Malcolm Maciver, the teachers' lead negotiator, reportedly said at the start of the meeting. We think we know what he meant.