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Monday, June 28, 1999 Published at 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK


McAvoy defeats left-wing challenge

Doug McAvoy says teachers voted against militancy

Doug McAvoy has won the battle for the leadership of the biggest teachers' union - seeing off the possibility of a left-wing take-over.

The result of the election for the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers showed that Doug McAvoy had received 39,245 votes compared to 22,183 for his left-wing rival, Christine Blower.

Mr McAvoy's election for a third successive term, on a 29.8% turnout, will have been welcomed by the government as a signal that teachers are ready to take a more moderate stance on pay reforms.

If Christine Blower had succeeded in ousting the more moderate Mr McAvoy, there had been predictions of a confrontation between teachers and the government, particularly over the issue of performance-related pay.

Although the union, under Mr McAvoy's leadership, is committed to a boycott of the appraisal system which underpins performance pay, it was believed that a victory for Ms Blower would have pushed the union into more direct opposition to the government.

In the course of the campaign, which closed on Friday, Mr McAvoy had accused Ms Blower of threatening to hijack the teachers' union in pursuit of an extremist agenda.

Ms Blower consistently rejected allegations that she was representing any extreme political organisations and that her priorities were improved pay, status and working conditions for teachers.

In the last general secretary election, five years ago, Doug McAvoy narrowly avoided defeat by a left-wing candidate.

Mr McAvoy said that the result demonstrated that teachers supported the union as "a campaigning but not a militant organisation, an organisation which speaks for the whole profession and not for a political faction".

Ms Blower said she was disappointed by the low turnout and criticised her opponent for a negative campaign.

"I think I fought a positive campaign. I regret that Doug McAvoy's style of campaign was negative," said Ms Blower.

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