McAvoy and de Gruchy flee riot

15th June 2001 at 01:00
IT was an appealing image while it lasted - the National Union of Teachers' Doug McAvoy and arch rival Nigel de Gruchy of the National Association of Schoomasters Union of Women Teachers praying cross-legged together on the roof of the world. Both leaders had been planning to attend the triennial congress of teacher unions from 150 countries in Kathmandu, Nepal in July.

Local Maoist rebels made assurances that delegates would be left alone and opposition parties had promised no strikes during the cngress. (Some UK unionists may have felt this was going too far.) The heavily armed crown prince was not consulted, however.

On Tuesday, with insurance companies worrying about post-regicidal civil unrest, the Congress reluctantly decided to relocate to Bangkok. Mr de Gruchy was resigned to the change:"Would the British Government have allowed the SAS to launch an Entebbe-style rescue mission if myself and Doug McAvoy were being held hostage halfway up Mount Everest?" Good question.

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