The Teachers' Union of Ireland and the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland are to hold a countrywide lunchtime protest later this month over the disputed Junior Cycle reforms.

Addressing the TUI's annual conference in Wexford, president Gerry Quinn also confirmed that it will be picketing centres where Junior Cycle curriculum training is being held.

ASTI president Philip Irwin reiterated his union's opposition to Junior Cycle reform proposals at his union's annual convention.

He also reiterated the union's opposition to teachers engaging in training for the new curriculum while their dispute over the issue is ongoing.

Mr Irwin said ASTI along with the TUI would organise a lunchtime protest of 27,000 second level teachers for the end of the month.

He criticised the Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan's decision to proceed with implementation of reform and he warned that the dispute would continue on into next year.

Normally the minister would address the ASTI conference, however, tensions over Junior Cycle reform meant no invitation was issued this year.

Earlier, Minister O'Sullivan told RTÉ News she was sorry that she was not going to be addressing delegates at the convention in Killarney.

She said it would have been an opportunity to engage with teachers.

Ms O'Sullivan said she would encourage teachers to come back to the table and also to allow members to engage in training for the new framework.

TUI conference hears of excessive workload

Mr Quinn described the workload for TUI members in second level, adult and further education and third level as "dangerously unsustainable".

He noted that TUI workload surveys at both second and third level had revealed worrying developments regarding excessive workload, stress and time pressure on teachers and lecturers.

He described the mix of education cuts, casualisation, unequal pay, bureaucratisation, challenging student behaviour, flexible hours and problematic social changes as a "lethal cocktail", adding that the profession is in crisis.

Mr Quinn said it was essential that the TUI should continue to cooperate with the ASTI on the Junior Cycle issue, and also on dealing with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, to ensure that imminent talks on pay would be about pay restoration particularly for those worst-affected by the pay cuts.

The TUI this afternoon passed a motion supporting strike action if future public service pay agreements do not support the principle of equal pay for equal work.

The motion calls for an end to pay discrimination against members appointed from January 2011 and February 2012, who were recruited on lower pay and conditions.

One delegate told the conference that the motion involving strike action would strengthen the union's negotiating position.

Another said the union had let down their members by accepting the lower conditions for new entrants in the Croke Park Agreement, albeit in a time of crisis, adding that now was the time to fix it.

Another delegate said new members should not be treated like yellow-pack members.

Delegates also passed motions calling for the removal of the public service pension levy to be prioritised, and backing a campaign for the abolition of the USC.

Meanwhile, Ms O'Sullivan this morning addressed the INTO conference in Ennis, Co Clare.

TUI in warning over pay and productivity

The TUI has warned that it will not entertain any linkage of pay restoration to additional demands for productivity from the Government.

Mr Quinn told delegates the TUI was about reversing the damage done to terms and conditions, not compounding it.

Delegates were also told that many teachers are now living in abject poverty because 50% of members under 35 are in precarious employment.

Mr Quinn defended the role of teachers and lecturers and warned that the TUI was on the move.

General Secretary John MacGabhann outlined cases of splitting one job into three - resulting in three recruits only earning around €10,000 a year each.

The issue of casualisation was also discussed with one delegate, Brendan O'Halloran, saying his sister and fellow teacher is on lower pay than him.

He said many were now living in abject poverty - and can no longer afford to rent let alone buy their own home.

Delegates passed a motion backing industrial action if future pay deals do not provide for equal pay for equal work.