A TORFAEN union rep has said this generation of teachers are "the guardians of the profession" for the future when it comes to campaigning for better pay and conditions.

The comments by Brian Hughes, divisional secretary for the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Cymru in Torfaen, come on a day that an estimated 13,000 Welsh members of the NUT will walk out on strike in a dispute with the UK Government over performance-related pay and pensions.

Teachers and NUT members from across the region met on the steps of the Senedd in Cardiff Bay from 11am this morning for a rally.

NUT members in England are also on strike.

More than 40 Gwent secondary and primary schools are shut today because of the strike with more than 100 partially closed.

Mr Hughes said that in countries with much-applauded education systems such as Canada and Finland, education is seen as too important for politicians to be allowed to "meddle".

"There are two issues in Torfaen at the moment," said Mr Hughes, referring to the ongoing consultation process into a merger between Llantarnam and Fairwater high schools, and today's strike.

"I take a different tack because I am close to retirement age so the pension changes don't affect me quite so badly. But our generation are the guardians of the profession and we owe it to future generations to make it as attractive as possible.

"In places like Finland and Canada, people are beating down the door to the profession," said Mr Hughes, who teaches at Croesyceiliog. "I am a teacher and I would love to be able to recommend to my students that they go into teaching.

"It's all down to politicians meddling."