The Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) has warned that it may be forced to consider industrial action unless progress is made on restoring pay allowances for teachers new to the profession.

The union has been in discussions with officials from both the Department of Education and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with a view to restoring qualifications allowances for new entrants to the profession.

However, this evening it has issued a statement expressing what it calls its "deep frustration" over what it calls a "regrettable" delay by Government ministers in committing to a clear timeframe for the restoration of the allowances.

The TUI warned that it may be forced to activate an existing mandate for industrial action unless "urgent and meaningful progress" is made on what it calls "this critical issue".

Qualification allowances were removed from teachers entering the profession after February 2012. The union has said that this amounted to a pay cut of approximately 20%.

Firefighters who also lost similar allowances have since had the value of their allowances restored. This is regarded as a precedent for other unions who are within the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The TUI said it reached an agreement with the Department of Education in relation to a range of issues last May. It said a key understanding underpinning this agreement was that pay inequality would be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Last January TUI members in the second level and further/adult education sectors voted overwhelmingly to engage in a campaign of industrial action, up to and including strike action.

However, after that they agreed to enter into talks with the Department of Education with a view to addressing their concerns.