Employers’ group IBEC has said it is hard to envisage pay increases for workers before 2011 because of the economic crisis.
IBEC Director General Turlough O'Sullivan said the current practice in industry is that pay is being frozen and even cut and that for the foreseeable future, he did not think anyone could contemplate any increases in pay.
Speaking on his arrival for talks on an economic recovery plan, Mr O'Sullivan said it was hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel before 2011.
Meanwhile, the Construction Industry Federation said the priority had to be the retention of jobs.
CIF Director General Tom Parlon echoed the call for pay restraint and urged the Government to invest in infrastructure projects to preserve jobs.
Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said restoring competitiveness might mean reductions in pay.
He said their priority was to find ways to regenerate business and get economic activity going.