Teaching is the "most underpaid, under appreciated, maligned and abused" profession, association treasurer Joe McKelvie said.
Backing a restoration of pay to the levels of 15 years ago, Mr McKelvie contrasted teachers' commitment with their shrinking wages. Between 1992 and 1998 inflation had eroded a teacher's salary by pound;2,332 - a shortfall of 11.2 per cent. Teachers, like nurses, were a 'soft touch'.
David Eaglesham, general secretary, appealed to ministers to act quickly on pay to avert a crisis in teacher recruitment.
There was increasing resentment among teachers "who have been bypassed by the 'benefits' of the Thatcher years.
Saddled with ever increasing demands and ever decreasing resources, and now largely ignored by both local and central government in terms of proper rewards for their services."
While talks on pay and conditions continue in the Millennium Review, delegates repeated their belief in the subject department with a principal teacher as the basis of secondary education.
John Gray, Aberdeen, said: "I've not yet seen a convincing alternative advanced. Why change a winning formula? Recent figures show a rising pupil performance at Standard grade and Higher."
He condemned researchers and quality assurance experts who advocated different forms of organisation. "They would be hard pressed to tell a blackboard from a sideboard," he said.