Union leaders pessimistic about possibility of new Croke Park package

Liam Doran from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation

Public sector union leaders have said they are pessimistic about the prospect of a reaching a new agreement with the Government aimed at making a further €1bn in savings.

The Government is looking for extra hours to be worked for the same pay, as well as other savings to be found. Compulsory redundancies are also likely to be placed on the table by the coalition.

Trade unions say the Government is asking too much as they sit down together for the first session of what is expected to be a difficult round of talks.

Today's gathering at an OPW building on St Stephen's Green in Dublin is aimed at working out how the discussions will be conducted for the next few weeks.

Liam Doran from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said his members had no more to give.

"I certainly do not go into (these talks) today conceding anything. The public service isn’t a well they can come back to every year, thinking there's more to give," he said.

Eoin Ronayne from the Civil and Public Services Union said his members - who are paid €45,000 or less per year - are "on the edge".

"There's really no scope on the pay end," he said. "And at any other end it's really very difficult to see how it will work…I think these are very difficult discussions and I'm not sure what progress, if any, can be made."

Bernard Harbor from Congress's Public Services Committee said that even if the talks could result in agreement on a package of measures, workers would have to back them in a ballot.

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