SIPTU President Jack O’Connor has described the Croke Park proposals as the most controversial proposition that trade unions have ever had to consider.

He was speaking after a meeting of the National Executive Council, which deferred a decision on whether to recommend the proposals to members until 14 March.

Mr O'Connor declined to give a personal view on the deal ahead of that decision.

However, he said he was quite clear in his mind that it is the best proposal that can be obtained through negotiation.

He also said any disagreement of decision among workers and trade unions upset and concerned him.

Mr O’Connor said they could not afford the luxury of it in the present precarious environment where working people stood to lose a lot.

Meanwhile, the Unite trade union has decided to recommend rejection of the Croke Park extension proposals.

The deal is aimed at cutting an additional €1bn from the State payroll bill over the next three years.

The union executive met this morning to consider the impact of the proposals on its 6,500 members working in the public service.

Unite Regional Coordination Officer Walter Cullen said the executive board unanimously rejected the proposals.

He said: "We just don't see it delivering anything like the Government is talking about as in terms of the impact on the Exchequer and the deficit.

"All it will do is impose more misery on our members within the public service and we're just not having any of it."

Mr Cullen earlier said he did not understand how anyone could argue that the Croke Park proposals were the best deal available.

He asked why workers would want to vote for a deal that the Government was threatening to shove down their throats afterwards.

Mr Cullen described the Government’s pre-conditions on the talks as outrageous.

He said Unite would decide its next step based on the outcome of ballots.

Mr Cullen said it did not automatically mean that everyone has to go on strike the day after it was rejected.

Unite was one of several unions that walked out of the Croke Park talks before they were completed.

Yesterday, Government sources ruled out any prospect of revisiting or renegotiating the Croke Park proposals.