The independent business organisation, ISME, has called for a wage freeze for the next 12 months, to provide what they call a "breathing space" for many labour intensive small businesses who are experiencing a negative impact of a slowing economy.
The association warned that unless there was a realistic approach to wages, the stream of job losses experienced over the last number of months would become a torrent.
According to ISME chief executive, Mark Fielding: "Irish wage rates have been increasing at over twice the EU average for the last number of years, a situation which is now unsustainable and has resulted in Irish labour costs running at 17% ahead of the euro area average."
"If demand for wage increases, along the lines of those requested by the unions are approved in the upcoming partnership talks, you may as well place the closing-down signs outside many businesses throughout the country.
"We cannot support excessive pay claims at a time when many businesses are struggling to keep their heads above water and thereby maintain their current level of employment."