Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton has denied workers whose unions left the Croke Park talks are being punished.

Yesterday, it emerged that public service staff who retire before August of next year will have their pension entitlements calculated on their pre-pay cut.

Firefighters will retain their pay structures.

Prison officers will keep evening and weekend premium payments.

Mr Bruton said some people stayed at the talks to negotiate the fairest way of delivering the contribution from their sector and they came up with alternatives which the Government accepted.

Speaking on Saturday with Claire Byrne he said: "There is no question of punishment.

“The Government offered a certain approach. We set forward approaches which we felt would be the fairest way to do that.

“There was a very detailed negotiation throughout the whole period.

“Always on the table were elements in respect of premium pay, elements in respect of higher paid people, elements in respect of longer working hours and elements in respect of increments and a balanced mix across all those were negotiated."