General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg has warned the Government and public service unions to let reason prevail and avoid tumbling into intense industrial conflict over the Croke Park II proposals.

The Government and its 290,000 employees remain deadlocked over cost reduction measures.

Mr Begg said it was easy to ratchet up a dispute situation and for people almost to get to the point of major conflict without realising it.

However, he said it would be an "hugely retrograde step" for the Government to impose cuts.

Mr Begg said he had no wish to cross over with the current exploratory talks involving Labour Relations Chief Kieran Mulvey.

However, he appealed to both sides to pull back from the brink.

He said that he did not think it would be enough to tweak Croke Park II,

His reasoning was that they have regard to the very sizeable union vote against it.

However, he called on the two sides to think outside the box, saying there could be scope for compromise on issues like annualised hours and flexitime.

He said it would be a very retrograde step for the Government to impose cuts.

Mr Begg said it was damaging not just union but Government relations, but also for the structure of industrial relations in Ireland.