It was a marathon session of pay talks.

Unions and Government officials arrived at the Workplace Relations Commission at 12pm yesterday and the negotiations did not conclude until 6am this morning.

There were indications yesterday evening that things were going to run late.

Union officials left the building at dinner time, but it wasn't to go home for the night, it was to move their cars to the after-hours car park at the WRC as they prepared for a long night.

Before dawn, the negotiators emerged. They had a deal - well, sort of.

Unions were tight-lipped about what was offered, saying they wanted to share it with their own teams before releasing the details publicly.

It didn't take long however for the figures to emerge.

A 6.5% increase pay rise on top of a 2% increase previously agreed under the existing public sector pay deal.

It would be staggered over this year and next and would contain measures to ensure that lower-paid workers received more.

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The Government said it was fair, unions said it was the best outcome that could be achieved, but it is not a done deal yet.

Individual unions will now ballot their members on whether to accept the offer.

The results will be announced on 7 October but before that, union members will be keeping a close eye on the budget, which will be announced the previous week on 27 September.


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Throughout the talks process, the Government has been keen to stress that pay alone cannot address the inflationary pressures being felt by workers and that there would also be additional cost-of-living measures contained within Budget 2023.

"Over the past weeks, Minister Michael McGrath and his Government colleagues have repeatedly promised to supplement pay measures with other cost-of-living supports through the Labour-Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) process and the forthcoming Budget," said ICTU President Kevin Callinan.

"Workers will now expect delivery on that promise. A Government failure to deliver will certainly impact the ballots that will shortly get underway," he added.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the budget would represent further strands of the Government's approach to alleviating pressures.

But if public sector workers feel the measures don't go far enough, they could vote to reject the offer.

That would see pay deal ballots being replaced with industrial action ballots and a marathon night of talks will have been in vain.