THE General Secretary of ASTI has defended his salary in excess of €130,000 as newly qualified teachers face intensive pay cuts.
The pay rates for union leaders were not specific issues raised by teachers at the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland, conference.
But the ASTI has openly revealed last year that the general secretary Pat King earned €132,480.
General secretary of the primary teachers union, the Irish National Teachers Organisation, Sheila Nunan received €153,885 while TUI secretary Peter McMenamin took home €158,000 in the figures revealed last year.
This week it was pointed out that new teachers taking up positions in secondary schools this year will be on 30pc less than some of their colleagues.
Mr King told the ASTI conference in Cork that some teachers joining the profession are earning as little as between €12,000 and €13,000.
Their take-home pay has been decimated by the Department of Education's cuts.
When quizzed by the Herald about his own pay, Mr King said that it was on a scale and he had already taken a pay cut.
"The pay of the staff is linked to public service pay and so is my pay. My pay is down," he told the Herald.
The comments come as the leader of the secondary teaching union admitted that it was facing an uphill battle to encourage young teachers to join up.
On the first day of the conference a small organised body who called themselves ASTI Fightback walked out when Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn delivered his speech.
Mr King said that the demonstration was a very small group -- out of about 480 delegates, 12 held placards and nine of these left the conference. And he said that the ASTI has to change its structure to suit the new generation.
"You have to modernise structures to suit modern people, younger members. It's not in the style of young people to be going to meetings," he said."We have to go to their workplaces."
He said that one of the major issues for concern for teachers was the junior cycle reform -- which will be debated today.
He said that teachers are in the dark about what could be introduced within months.
"They (the Department) haven't written one word of the new programme yet -- they've just come out with an outline plan," he said. "What we're saying is, for goodness sake you have to sit down with the teachers, with the practitioners because teachers know what works in the classroom."