Negotiations on new pay deal get underway today

Negotiations on a new national pay deal are due to get underway at Government Buildings in Dublin later today.

The discussions are taking place amid a significant slowdown in Ireland's economic growth, rising unemployment and a major deterioration in the public finances.

The Government and employers are insisting that workers must exercise pay restraint in order to protect economic competitiveness.

However, trade unions say they will be seeking pay rises above the rate of inflation to help their members cope with the rising cost of living.

They say the benefits of the last pay deal, which awarded pay rises of 10% over 27 months, were completely eroded by annual inflation of around 5%.

The unions also say top executives are continuing to grant themselves massive pay rises while telling ordinary workers to exercise restraint.

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