Hours after the government announced a campaign for industrial action ballots, it accepted an invitation for fresh talks with civil service unions.

The government has accepted an invitation for fresh talks with public service unions, hours after announcing a coordinated campaign for industrial action ballots.

Neons has also received an invitation from the Workplace Relations Commission, but they want clarity on whether the government side is “flexible in its position to negotiate”.

The invitation was issued just hours after union leaders announced a coordinated campaign on public service pay that would include ballots from next month.

“The government welcomes and accepts the invitation of the WRC to resume negotiations on the public service pay arrangement at an agreed date next month,” a spokesman for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reforms said.

“As Minister Michael McGrath has said from the outset, the government aims to settle on terms that are generally fair to public servants and taxpayers. Achieving this will require goodwill and flexibility on both sides. “

SIPTU Deputy Secretary General John King said the Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is “positively prepared” to return to the negotiations.

He said it is seeking “clarity as to whether the employer side is accepting the invitation, on the grounds that it is in line with the minister’s statement yesterday that it is flexible in its position to make the deal”.

The WRC is understood to have offered the parties 10 or 12 August dates to re-enter the talks.

It comes as plans for industrial action ballots in the public service were being drawn up after a meeting of union leaders this morning.

The Irish Congress of the Public Service Committee of the Trade Unions agreed to a coordinated campaign on public service pay.

The unions on the committee represent more than 90 percent of the country’s 340,000 public servants.

The chairman of the Public Service Committee, Kevin Collinan, said unions were united in their resolve to get a credible public service pay offer for last year and for this year.

He said unions are ready to rejoin after talks broke down at the Workplace Relations Commission over a review of the current wage deal last month, when the commission “is able to point out that there are significant new proposals up for discussion”.

“Inflation has risen from 5.6 per cent to over 9 per cent in four months, as we began a review segment of the current public service wage deal, Building Momentum,” he said.

“Workers in the economy are bearing the full brunt of the large and sustained increase in the cost of essentials such as household heating, fuel, food, housing, childcare and many more.”

He told the meeting that the comments made by Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath on RTE radio yesterday did not completely match what the Workplace Relations Commission had told unions.

Mr Collinan said the WRC is facilitating his engagement with officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

“Minister McGrath’s signal is that the government is prepared to rectify the inadequate proposal that led to the conclusion of negotiations in mid-June without a deal,” he said.

“But this is not the position that has been relayed to us by the WRC, who have told us repeatedly that the government side is continuing to consider its position, and that no change is expected until August.”

He said this is the reason why PSC officials recommended a coordinated union campaign backed by industrial action ballots.

“That position was strongly supported by public service unions today,” he said. “A considerable number of unions have already started preparing ballots, and I expect them to start from next month.

“While we fully understand that negotiations require flexibility on all sides, we have no indication that the government is ready to make a realistic proposal. Unless the WRC has indicated that the government side has There is no point in reworking until there is something new to say. After the WRC has been able to indicate that there are important new proposals up for discussion, we are ready to engage again.”

The PSC claimed that the government was violating building momentum by failing to conclude the review of its pay terms, a claim that the minister has rejected.

The committee has stated that it is no longer ready to discuss the extension of the Building Momentum Agreement Covered pay in 2023, unless better terms are agreed for 2021-2022.

Mr Collinan said the government offered an additional increase of 2.5 pc for the 2021-2022 period of the existing agreement.

He said unions felt this was “clearly insufficient when inflation is now likely to exceed 10 percent in that period.”

During the talks, the government also offered 2.5 per cent for the next year.

With the wage increase already agreed for this year, this would represent a total wage increase of 7pc for this year and the next at an additional cost of €1.2bn.

The government proposal that has been introduced would bring the total cost of the building momentum to €2.3bn.

Earlier, the Secretary General of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization (INMO) said members would begin preparing ballots on industrial action if a new wage deal was not agreed upon.

Phil Nye Shegdha said that the current cost-of-pressure affects nurses and midwives “quite dramatically” because INMO members were paid only marginally.

Ms. Ni Shigdha said that the wage rates set in the building momentum do not reflect current cost pressures.

He told RTE’s Morning Ireland, “We have asked all unions representing the public service to meet today and this campaign to improve the costs negotiated under Building Momentum for a coordinated approach to this campaign.” for a coordinated approach.”

“The point is, this is a campaign in all unions affiliated with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and we are one of those unions.

“So, our Executive Council met on Monday and endorsed that we should be part of this campaign because the cost of living and the current inflation rate obviously affects nurses and midwives quite dramatically.

“We must make sure that we get a proposal that can be put up for public servants and we are not in that place yet.”

Ms. Ni Shigdha said that INMO has made its position clear to the Commission on Workplace Relations.

“We have told the Workplace Relations Commission and the government that we are available and in case there is no response, we will prepare our members, talk to our members and launch a campaign including the preparation of ballots,” she said. . Told.

“We have already signaled to the WRC where we stand, the WRC knows that when unions engage in serious negotiations, we do not do so with a fixed position.

“We know and we understand the reconciliation and if there is a better proposal as well, we cannot understand why we were not called back because these talks were postponed by the WRC.

“If there’s a better offer, let’s go with it. If we’re invited to enter negotiations, we’re available.”

“My understanding and the last formal correspondence was that the government needed more time, so the WRC itself is not in a position to bring the parties together, and I am not speaking on their behalf, but as a businessman I am on their behalf. I know the job.”

Ms Ni Shigdha said the healthcare industry is in “crisis” and current pay rates do not make nursing or midwifery a “lucrative” profession.

“We are already in crisis because we have a shortage of nursing and midwifery staff in this country, as well as other health care workers, but in reality, in our urban areas the cost of living, rent, to work The cost of driving and also the actual cost of childcare is not addressed by the wage wards created,” she said.

“All of those costs are felt by nurses and midwives alike, but nurses and midwives are also paid marginally.”