Progress made in public pay talks with both sides believed to be nearing deal

Both sides met at Workplace Relations Commission on Tuesday after talks broke off at Christmas amid mutual blame

Talks aimed at producing a new public sector deal made significant progress on Tuesday, with growing optimism on the union side that an agreement will be concluded in the coming 24 hours.

Representatives of the two sides met at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on Tuesday afternoon for their first session of talks since before Christmas. Talks then broke up, with both sides blaming the other for the slow progress made.

At that stage, the key issue of pay had yet to be touched on. Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe had suggested that unexpected items were brought to the table by the union side, something that senior union officials denied. On Tuesday afternoon, however, there was a sharper focus to talks and significant progress on a number of issues, people familiar with the matter said.

The two sides reconvened at 7pm for a second session of the day, which concluded without agreement. They were due to resume discussions at 11am on Wednesday.


The pay talks started in late November and are intended to replace the Building Momentum agreement, which initially covered 2021 and 2022 before being extended to cover last year. It expired on December 31st.

Kevin Callinan, general secretary of Fórsa and chairman of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Public Services Committee, criticised the Government’s failure to prioritise a new deal before the old one ran out.

The 19 unions represented on the committee are due to meet on Thursday, when they were originally expected to finalise wording on a ballot for industrial action. Instead, the feeling on Tuesday evening was that that meeting might be used to brief member unions on a completed deal or one that is close to being done. The deal would then be put to a ballot of members among the roughly 385,000 workers who will be impacted by it.

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Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times