The Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO), is to be allowed join the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on a temporary basis for the sole purpose of the ongoing public sector pay talks.

It follows a recent similar arrangement for PDFORRA, the representative body for members of the defence forces.

"As provided for in the Defence Acts, and following on from the consent provided to PDFORRA last week, my officials have this week conveyed an offer of temporary conditional consent to RACO, to seek temporary associate membership with ICTU solely for the purpose of the forthcoming pay negotiations," the Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said.

"I have now instructed my officials to commence the process of making the appropriate legislative amendments required," Mr Coveney said.

RACO said it was grateful to the Minister and his department for their engagement.

"This is a historic move for Defence Forces commissioned officers and we hope it will be a positive step for the pay and working conditions, and ultimately the retention of our members," a RACO spokesperson said.

Public sector pay talks between unions and officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform got underway yesterday at the Workplace Relations Commission.