The government of Nova Scotia Province in Canada, has shut all schools today, citing children's safety. Teachers, who are working to rule and were intending to teach as normal, say that this is a provocative move - if the government really had children's safety at heart it would allow them to come to school. 

Despite the inconvenience to parents, a majority still support the teachers' action and on Friday, secondary school students protested in support of their teachers. Students from 50 schools walked out at lunch time to demonstrate. As one put it:

My life has been changed by so many teachers and I think that they deserve better working conditions, they deserve to be respected by the government and they deserve to be negotiated with. They don’t deserve what’s going on where the government is dictating what their working conditions will be. That’s not how it’s supposed to work and that’s the whole reason why they have a union. They are supposed to be able to fight for their rights and to fight for a better education for all Nova Scotia students.

Teachers are taking action because an unsustainable workload is making it hard to give proper time to their core job - teaching students. The usual education 'reform' measures mean that teachers are spending hours inputing data, testing in ways which do not inform their practice and dealing with oversized classes. They have a list of 16 demands including class size limits, and extra help for students with special needs as well as a properly negotiated salary package.

The government is intending to rush legislation through in order to impose a contract. With open-ended work to rule action planned, the government's pro-'reform' and austerity policies can only cause more heartache to students, communities and teachers, which is of course why the teachers are so determined to resist them.