Public sector pay talks inching towards deal

Public sector pay talks inching towards deal

Unions and Government negotiators are thought to be inching towards a deal on cutting €1.3bn from the public sector pay bill.

Cabinet met this morning to discuss progress after the talks were adjourned following a 23-hour overnight session.

Both sides remain locked in talks this evening with compulsory unpaid leave of up to 20 days for public servants forming the basis for agreement.

The Government was less optimistic than unions earlier in the day about doing a deal, insisting many difficult issues remained to be tackled.

But IMPACT's Peter McLoone believes unions have delivered and, if the Government agrees to it, Thursday's strike can be called off.

Speaking as he went into the talks, Peter McLoone indicated they were progressing towards a deal.

Mr McLoone said: "A solution is within our grasp."

Union leaders had this morning indicated that a draft agreement was effectively on the the table, but Government sources behind the scenes insisted that there was still much work to be done.

Unions are pushing for savings to be achieved through enforced unpaid leave among public sector workers, rather than salary cuts, although the projected savings fall short of those required by Government.

Senior Government figures were reluctant to be drawn on the possibility of a breakthrough.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, speaking as he prepared to leave for a meeting in Brussels, said a "certain proposal" had been submitted by the unions, which was examined by the Government this morning.

"I am sure the Taoiseach will be dealing with that matter in due course."

Minister of State Martin Mansergh meanwhile said he simply didn't know whether or not a deal would be concluded.

"I would be very cautious," he said.

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