Talks on a public service pay agreement have adjourned for the night but will resume at 2.30pm in the afternoon.

It is understood that after 12 hours of negotiations, the management side needed to do "number-crunching" which would take some time.

Sources said there had been "a fair bit of process" on non-pay issues but confirmed that the difficult topics of outsourcing, unpaid working hours and staff recruitment and retention difficulties remain unresolved.

The parties are believed to be considering a process within the new pay agreement to consider recruitment and retention, possibly with the involvement of the Public Service Pay Commission - though nothing has been agreed.

The Government has still not tabled specific figures for potential pay rises or increases in pension contributions for some government employees.

The Government has tabled demands for some public servants to pay higher contributions for their pensions as part of a new three-tier structure.

It is understood management negotiators want those on "fast accrual" pensions - including gardaí, prison officers, the defence forces, judges and some politicians - to convert all of the current pension levy into a higher overall employee contribution, instead of abolishing it.

Unions representing gardaí, prison officers and others have already indicated that they will strenuously resist such plans.

Lower pension contribution rates would apply to those in the other two pension categories: those recruited prior to 2013, and those hired after 2013, whose pension benefits are less generous.

However, the thresholds for such contributions have not yet been specified.

INMO calls for additional funds for public service pay

Additional exchequer funding will have to be found to address the recruitment and retention difficulties in the public service, according to the Irish Nurses and midwives Organisation. 

Speaking as he arrived for today's talks, INMO General Secretary Liam Doran rejected suggestions that special pay awards for nurses and other groups facing staff shortages would mean less pay restoration for other government employees. 

He said the Government would have to respond to the labour market reality of staff shortages with additional funding - as they could not have a public service without public servants.

Mr Doran said the Government would have to use a "wider lens" and more imagination to reflect the labour market difficulties.

He believed a new pay deal can be done, but warned there was still a significant gap between the two sides on issues including pay restoration, pensions, recruitment and retention, and the Government's "wish-list" on productivity.

Mr Doran said recruitment and retention were not just an INMO issue, and the Government should be coming to unions with measures to address the problem. 

IMPACT spokesperson Bernard Harbor said unions would have to see what money was available for any deal before he could assess the likelihood of securing a pay deal in the next 48 hours. 

He said they would need to see figures - and that would need to happen by tomorrow if they were going to do a deal.

He said the talks were scheduled for today and tomorrow, but added that if the process runs into Thursday that would be a positive sign.

He said everyone wanted to see things moving quicker than they have done over the last two weeks, and said the ambition was to do it today or tomorrow.

The President of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors Antoinette Cunningham warned that gardaí would absolutely resist any attempt by the Government to make them pay more for their "fast accrual" pensions, under which they can retire on full pensions without serving the standard 40 years.

The General Secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants, which represents senior administrative grades also argued for pay rises, saying salary was an issue in recruiting senior managers for the public service. 

Ciaran Rohan said his members would be very unhappy if higher paid grades were left behind, and everyone would have to get something out of the process.

Meanwhile, SIPTU warned that management could forget about what it called its "unrealistic" productivity demands if pay increases were "back-loaded" towards the end of any new pay agreement.

In a bulletin to members, the SIPTU Health Division said all sides had agreed that the talks and entered the endgame, and that the next 48 hours would be crucial, with pay and pensions centre stage.