Once again this year there is one issue that will dominate the annual teacher conferences, and it is pay, specifically pay for younger teachers who entered the profession after 2010.

They used to be called Newly Qualified Teachers, but given that some of them will now have entered into their eighth year as a teacher that term no longer seems so apt.

Across all three unions, as a growing proportion of their members fit that lower paid category, the pressure continues to build.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland reckons that around 35% of its membership is now on the lower scales, and that percentage is growing every year.

The Department of Education points to the fact that recent pay agreements have narrowed the pay gap substantially, by 75% it says.

The minister defends the current teacher starting salary of €36,000 as a healthy one. Richard Bruton also points out that the teachers’ pay grievance cannot be dealt with in isolation.

But teachers are far from satisfied. They want parity. Their unions maintain that low pay rates are a key factor in the current teacher shortage, as younger teachers are attracted by the prospect of better pay abroad.

It’s those younger teachers who have been hit by the pay reductions, and those reductions are most stark at the early stages of their careers, at precisely the time when young people are beginning to think of settling down, of getting mortgages, and having families.

A second-level teacher starting out today is likely to be earning, in her or his first year, 14% less than what they would have taken home in 2010.

Exactly what form debate on this issue will take at the upcoming conferences remains to be seen.There are strong motions already tabled, calling for industrial action and a unified campaign across all three teacher unions.

But with last month’s publication of the Government’s report on the pay differential across the public sector, emergency motions are now likely to be tabled.

The Government review published last month dealt with the issue of pay cuts for all those recruited to the public sector after 2010, not just teachers. It outlined the savings that have been and continue to be made as a result of the cuts. On steps to address the issue it promised "further engagement over the coming months".

Delegates at the three teacher conferences are likely to want a timeline that’s more specific. Delegates are likely to hear strong arguments for this, as well as calls for any demands to be backed up by threats of industrial action.

None of the three teacher unions voted in favour of the latest collective pay deal, the Public Service Stability Agreement.

In a move that was out of character with their traditional attitude to such deals, members of Primary teacher’s union the INTO rejected the PSSA by a majority of 89%. It "does not progress the issue of pay equality", said General Secretary Sheila Nunan at the time.

All three teacher unions however have not stepped outside the perameters of the deal and they are all keen to participate in talks on the issue of pay equalisation.

Those talks are open ended.

But teachers want to see a resolution.

Are they prepared to accept assurances that the anomaly will be addressed over time? Or are they losing patience?

The reception afforded to the Minister, and more importantly the decisions taken on the floor in Killarney, Cork, and Wexford over the next few days, will tell.