29th March 1996 at 00:00
National Union of Teachers

Contributing members 189,293 (December,1994)

Membership fee Pounds 88

HQ Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1

General secretary Doug McAvoy (57). Salary: Pounds 66,247 plus Pounds 3,473 superannuation (1994)

Executive members 42 (14 women, 28 men)

Financial position Income in 1994: Pounds 12,338,329; expenditure, Pounds 11,309,879

Power base London and other cities. Dominant union in primary schools.

Potted history The NUT, which celebrated its 125th anniversary last year has done more than any other union to raise the status of the profession and improve the education system. In its Sixties' heyday it had nearly three times as many members as all the other teacher unions combined and had a head office staff of 300. Its star began to wane in the 1970s, however, and it has since lost tens of thousands of members, not only to the more moderate unions, the ATL and PAT, but to the NASUWT. Doug McAvoy has proved to be a competent general secretary who reflects the views of the majority of his members. But he has been unable to stop the internecine battles that have damaged the union's public image.

Achievements The union's education section has mustered some impressive arguments against Government policies. Best regional office structure and strong legal section.

Weaknesseslow points The jostling of David Blunkett, Labour's education spokesman, by Far Left delegates at last year's conference. Losing the Timeplan court case last year (the NUT was found to have unlawfully interfered with the recruitment activities of the supply teacher agency) could cost the union a six-figure sum. The NUT has, however, lodged an appeal.

Prognosis It is tempting to conclude, to paraphrase Dean Acheson, that the NUT has lost an empire and not yet found a role. But that is not entirely true.

It is, however, evident that the union is struggling to adjust to the new reality of its diminished power. It has won some respect from other unions for the way in which it handled the financial crisis it was confronted with in the early 1990s. But prudent financial management alone will not safeguard its position as the number one teachers' union.

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