Sixteen European countries have reduced or frozen teachers' salaries in response to the economic downturn.

Teachers in Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Slovenia are the worst affected by budget restrictions and austerity measures, according to a report published by the European Commission to coincide with World Teachers' Day.

However, the report also shows that in four countries - the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Iceland - teachers' salaries have increased since mid-2010. 

Pay in Romania is now almost back to pre-crisis levels.

The report shows that from mid-2010, the economic crisis had taken its toll on teachers' pay, with increasing numbers of countries cutting both salaries and allowances such as holiday pay and bonuses.

Greece reduced teachers' basic salaries by 30% and stopped paying Christmas and Easter bonuses.

Ireland cut salaries for new teachers by 13% in 2011 and those appointed after 31 January this year faced a further 20% drop in pay due to the abolition of qualification allowances.

In Spain, salaries of teachers and other public sector employees were cut in 2010 by around 5% and not adjusted to inflation since; similar measures have been applied in Portugal.

In Europe, the maximum salary for senior teachers is generally twice as high as the minimum salary for newcomers.

However, considering it takes 15-25 years on average to earn the maximum salary, teaching organisations fear that young people may be discouraged from entering the profession.