Unions representing tens of thousands of public service workers have asked the Labour Relations Commission to intervene in their row with employers over Millennium pay. Almost 100,000 workers, including doctors, nurses, Gardaí, fire fighters and air traffic controllers, are claiming £100-an-hour in addition to bank holiday premium rates for New year's Eve and New Year's Day.

This pay claim, for workers providing emergency cover during the Millennium celebrations, has been put forward by a loose alliance of public service unions set up to negotiate staffing and pay levels. The claim is for £100-an-hour on top of normal bank holiday premium rates for everyone required to work between 8am on Friday, December 31st, New Year's Eve, and 8am on Sunday, January 2nd. The alliance includes staff right across the health services, as well as other groups such as Gardaí and fire fighters.

In the private sector, in areas such as banking for example, payments of more than £2,000 have been negotiated, but public service unions complain that their centralised talks have been going nowhere. The country's largest public sector union, IMPACT, has already decided to ballot its 16,000 health service members on industrial action, because of the failure of managers to respond to their claim. The umbrella group today decided to bring their claim to the Labour Relations Commission, and are seeking an early hearing, possibly next week.