Durham Coun cillor Mr. E. Colgan the "thoroughly irresponsible" attitude of Catholic teachers in the Durham "closed-shop" dispute comes from a teacher who has played a big part in shaping their attitude. He is Mr. F. J. Hughes, Treasurer of the Tyneside Branch of the Catholic Social Guild, Vice-President of the Vale of Derwent Association of the member of
N.U.T., and an active m the Durham and District Catholic Teachers' Association.
Answering Mr. Colgan's charges point by point, Mr. Hughes says: "I cannot speak for every single Catholic teacher in Durham County, hut I do know that a large number of Catholic teachers have been very exercised f.or a lung time about all points of the dispute and also very concerned as to the attitude of Catholic Durham County councillors. These Catholic teachers are not ignorant of the ethics of the dispute or of Catholic social teaching. They know that a strike can only be lawful when there is a grave and just cause and when all available means for reaching a satisfactory solution have been tried and failed.
"Councillor Colgan says there is no violation of basic conditions which make a strike justifiable. The threatened strike is not for more pay, is not for easier conditions—it is for a principle. Durham County teachers are welt aware that a result of their stand on this point of principle might lead to further pin-pricks from the authority. This is surely something Durham teachers can be proud of— they are not fighting for material advancement. "Let us consider the initial causes of the dispute: 1"In November, 1950, Durham County Council attempted to enforce membership of a trade union or professional organisation on their teacher employees. Did Councillor Colgan agree with this policy? "The attempt was defeated because the teachers refused to give any evidence of union membership. 2"The County Council then decided be questioned that all candidates for pro
motion to headships w
tioned as to their union membership. This regulation had to be withdrawn on the instruction of the Minister of Education. The County Council then intro./ duced a regulation that all applications for extended sick pay must be made through a union official. Doesn't this mean that a non-mmber of a union is thus deprived of the chance of applying for extended sick pay? "Doesn't it mean that the Durham County Council (the employer) is still attempting to enforce compulsory union membership on employees who don't want it by attempting to penalise employees who are not members of a union? "Teachers would like to see the Durham closed shop as dead as a door nail. Unfortunately the fact of Councillor Colgan stating that it is dead doesn't bring about this desirable end."