Union leaders have warned that the partnership process is going through what they describe as a rocky patch amid concerns over the rate of inflation.

The general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions David Begg said the fear of a rise in inflation driven by interest rate increases was a very worrying trend.

Mr Begg said he would be raising this and other concerns at a plenary session of the social partners at Dublin Castle which took place today.

The president of country's largest trade union SIPTU, Jack O'Connor, said workers could not be expected to carry the burden of inflation and called on the Government to address the problem through other measures to ease the cost of living.

IBEC leader Turlough O'Sullivan said the new partnership agreement Towards 2016 appeared to be working well. He said fears raised during negotiations about the impact of immigration on employment standards had not materialised.