Teachers belonging to the Teachers' Union of Ireland held protests today in their campaign against lower pay rates for public servants recruited since 2011.

The protests took place at schools, colleges, and Institutes of Technology but services to students were not affected.

Over 60,000 public servants out of around 300,000 are now on the lower pay rates, which unions argue are deterring applicants from joining the public service, resulting in staff shortages.

They also say the two-tier pay structure is destroying morale for newer recruits, some of whom have been on lower pay than their colleagues for seven years - and stand to lose thousands of euro over the course of their careers compared to those hired before 2011.

Talks are currently under way between the Government and public service unions in a bid to find a way to restore pay equality - but there is no timeframe for a conclusion to that process.

TUI President Joanne Irwin said a recent TUI survey had revealed that 46% of post-2011 entrants to the profession do not believe that they will still be in the profession in ten years' time.

However, she noted that if pay equality were restored, 94% said that they would remain.

Meanwhile, 52% said that they would not advise a younger relative to pursue the profession of teaching.

Ms Irwin also noted that the of 376 post-2011 recruits found that only 22% received a contract of full hours in their first year of teaching - meaning that almost four out of five  on part time hours might only earn a fraction of the starting salary quoted by the Government.

She said the difficulties in recruiting teachers had impaired the quality of service to students in terms of subject choice in subjects including Modern Languages, Mathematics, Science, Irish, Home Economics and technology. 

Ms Irwin also said that some third level Institutes of Technology had reported problems in recruiting staff at the Assistant Lecturer entry grade - while in some cases, advertisements in key disciplines had not attracted any applications.