The number of people on the Live Register has risen to a new high.

The seasonally adjusted figures show there are now 443,400 people signing on - that is 2,600 more than in the previous month.

It means the unemployment rate crept up to 14.8% in May.

Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Richard Bruton has said that today's unemployment figures underline the reasons to reform labour agreements.

Minister Bruton has said that 'anyone looking at these numbers today that argues a business as usual approach to any sector of our economy needs to think again. 'business as usual' is not enough.'

A delegation from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is meeting the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation to discuss Mr Bruton's controversial proposals to reform wage setting mechanisms which have been criticised by unions.

Arriving for the meeting, ICTU General Secretary David Begg said that ICTU was hoping to get the minister to stick with the recommendations contained in a report by Labour Court chairman Kevin Duffy and UCD economist Professor Frank Walsh.

David Begg said that their recommendations were very sensible - and unions were prepared to sign up to the report and employers should do the same.

However, he said that the problem for employers is that the Duffy Walsh report conclusively and forensically deconstructed the case that cutting wages had anything to do with employment.

The ICTU General Secretary said that what they were seeing was a quest to reduce the wages for the most vulnerable in society when there was no apparent reason for doing so.

Today, Mr Bruton said that the economy must be more competitive across the board and warned that all groups must begin to embrace change if the extent of change needed is to be delivered.

He said the figures underlined the reasons to reform labour agreements.

He said that 'those who have analysed this regard it as needing change.

'We can't stand back at this time of significant urgency and with a serious collapse in employment in these sectors and say we will put off reform for a later date.'

His comments will make for a difficult meeting with the ICTU tonight.

Congress says it wants to know if Minister Bruton intends departing from the recommendations made in a recent independent review of the Joint Labour Committee/Registered Employment Agreement system.

The ICTU backs the finding of the review that the system should be retained, but Chambers Ireland has said 'urgent' reform of current wage setting mechanisms is needed if job losses are to be addressed.

Richard Bruton says there will undoubtedly be resistance to change and reform from various sectors and interests.

When he meets Congress this evening, he will discover just how firm that resistance really is.

Meanwhile, figures from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation show that the department was informed of 4,117 redundancies in May.

This was an increase from the April figure of 3,768, but was lower than the 4,967 redundancies seen in May 2010.