The Executive Council of the Congress of Trade Unions has voted tonight to defer a decision on whether to take up the Government's invitation to talks on a new social partnership agreement.

A spokesperson said ICTU would recommend to tomorrow's delegate conference that they should not make a decision at this time.

This comes after a vote by SIPTU not to go into partnership talks unless it gets more solid assurances on the Government's proposals to tackle job displacement and exploitation of migrant workers.

Only one out of 400 delegates voted against the motion.

'Exploiters' paradise'

Earlier SIPTU President Jack O’Connor said Ireland could turn into an 'exploiters' paradise' if the Government does not introduce measures to prevent a descending spiral in pay and conditions.

Mr O'Connor outlined to delegates a letter from the Taoiseach indicating his commitment to stopping the so-called race to the bottom in employment standards.

Mr O'Connor welcomed the Taoiseach's comments but said the union needs further clarification on how those aspirations will translate into practical measures.

He said the issues raised by jobs displacement and exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers was so fundamental that they need to be addressed away from the long list of topics on the partnership agenda.

He said the trend towards exploitation was so pernicious that eventually even decent employers would be forced to adopt such practices just to stay in business.