Around 50,000 primary and secondary school teachers are ready to down their pens and take to the picket lines this month in protest at their pay and conditions. Teaching unions have locked horns with the Government amid claims teachers' workloads have become untenable and class sizes too large. Simon Collins and Patrice Dougan investigate.

Today's teachers are so stressed and under so much pressure it's not uncommon to see colleagues break down crying, an Auckland teacher says.

Others are waking at 4.30am in a desperate bid to stay on top of their never-ending mountain of reports, homeworks, class preparation and