Three teacher unions have criticised the slow pace of talks with Government aimed at securing equal pay for teachers who entered the profession over the past seven years.

In a joint statement the presidents of the ASTI, INTO and the TUI say "time is up" for the ongoing talks with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

They criticised what they called a delay in the process.

In the statement, the unions said talks are now expected to continue this month with the agreement then put to a ballot of members in each of the three unions.

Negotiations began after the unions agreed at their annual conferences to pursue a collective campaign to end pay inequality for those who entered the profession since 1 January 2011.

ASTI President Breda Lynch said that as the budget approached, the Government should make it clear how it intends to resolve the issue.

She said the three unions had committed to a campaign of industrial action in the event of a continuing failure to do so.

INTO President Joe Kileen said members' patience was wearing thin.

He said the unions remained committed to the talks however, and to delivering for members.

TUI President Seamus Lahart said the 'embedded inequality' had led to widespread difficulties in the recruitment and retention of teachers.