The evidence urges the review body to recommend an increase so low that the government will not have to take the politically uncomfortable decision to phase the award yet again. Staging, the government says, has the potential to damage teacher morale.
'This demonstrates little political backbone on the part of the government,' the letter says. 'You will gain no respect from teachers by seeking to have the STRB do your political dirty work,' Mr McAvoy warns the education secretary.
Obeying the government's wishes, Mr McAvoy says, will remove and semblance of independence that any naive and innocent teacher attributes to the review body.
Mr McAvoy has also called on the chair of the review body, Tony Vineall, to tell the government that the review body will not accede to the demand and that the test of affordability is political and must remain with government. It is not for the review body to protect the government's popularity.
Mr McAvoy has written to the general secretaries of the other teachers' organisations which, unlike the NUT, supported the establishment of a review body. He urges them to support the NUT's initiatives.
Teachers' salary increases have been staged for three consecutive years. The review body recommended an incrase for 1998-99 of 3.8% and urged the government not to stage it again. Instead, the government phased the award, reducing its value to 2.6%, which represented a more drastic cut in the value of the ward then perpetrated by its Conservative predecessor.