Talks on a new public pay service deal for 300,000 workers are on a knife-edge as they resume this morning after unions blasted a government department over its handling of negotiations.
Intensive talks threatened to break down as tensions morphed into outright anger as the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions accused the Department of Public Expenditure of jeopardising the talks through improper leaks.
Talks began last week on a new deal to succeed the Public Service Stability Agreement, which expires at the end of this month.
The Public Services Committee, which is made up of 20 unions representing most of the 300,000 employees in the public service, said the chances of an agreement are now in the balance, and that the process is "extremely fragile".
The hostility threatened to boil over as committee negotiators accused the department of giving documents to unions not affiliated with the ICTU-backed group before they were given to those within.
It led to some unions saying they had effectively been blindsided and left out of the process.
Public Services Committee lead negotiators are Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan, Siptu deputy general secretary John King, Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha, and Irish National Teachers' Organisation general secretary John Boyle.
Following a terse meeting yesterday morning, Mr Callinan raised questions about whether progress towards a new public service agreement is now possible.
He warned about the fragility of the process at that point, and said a meeting of the two sides that afternoon would be crucial.
Those involved in the afternoon meeting remained quiet about the outcome of the afternoon session, but it is understood that negotiations remain fraught and on a knife edge.
The current Public Service Stability Agreement has been in place since January 2018.