SIPTU President Jack O'Connor has said that time is rapidly running out for the Government to engage with trade unions to avoid a potentially enormous confrontation.

He said the Government was not going to be able to resolve its problems exclusively at the expense of working people.

Mr O'Connor warned that the pressure cooker would explode unless they had the initiative and imagination to grasp the moment to embark on negotiations to find a better, fairer way forward.

He said there is potential to resolve the issue, but the Government was not availing itself of the opportunity.

Mr O'Connor said the unions were not going to be able to keep 'this slow bicycle race' going on forever, and were going to be forced to do things that they did not want to do and that should not be necessary.