National Pay Deal Talks To Resume

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth is expected as talks on a new national pay deal resumes between the Government, unions and employers today.

Unions have already rejected calls by employers to freeze pay in the public sector, given the downturn in the Government's finances and the unions will be calling on the Government to spell out the scale of the economic problems and its proposals for dealing with them.

Figures released on Wednesday by the union, Unite, says Irish companies make an average of €45,800 in profit per employee per year. The union say this figure is twice that of the UK and there were no grounds for believing this was too low or that Irish employers were being squeezed by high wages. It said various methodologies all told the same story - that Ireland was a high-profit economy.

However, the Government is due to publish exchequer returns for the first half of the year, which are expected to show a dramatic shortfall of at least €1.5 billion in tax revenues.

The Government side in the talks is expected to use the newly-released exchequer data to highlight the need for pay restraint. Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said last weekend a drop in revenue would require "savings" rather than cutbacks.

In contrast, industry representatives such as the Construction Industry Federation and Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) have called for wage restraint "in the short-to-medium term" due to the fall in domestic consumer demand caused by the economic downturn.

With all sides demanding different approaches, agreement is not expected to be reached easily.


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