There is "no point" participating in discussions with the Government over the public pay deal unless the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) indicates the process is "capable of moving forward", the president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu), Kevin Callinan, has said.
The group had made it "very clear" they were in discussions with the Government "to negotiate" pay and that was what they expected to happen, he told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.
However, he said there was now a gap between the two sides and no further progress was possible after Government representatives had informed the WRC that they were not prepared to move from their position.
Mr Callinan said Ictu had made it clear they were available for discussions, but added there needed to be an indication from the WRC that it believed progress was possible.
He said there also needed to be movement from the Government side.
"Inflation is really the enemy of workers. Workers aren't the cause of inflation, they're the victims of it," Mr Callinan said.
"Workers suffer as a result of inflation in real terms, but it surely should be evident that pay increases still have an important part to play in trying to protect living standards and make sure that that damage is limited."
He added that trade unions had sought a review of the two-year agreement which had been negotiated during "the height of Covid" when finances had been very different.
At that time, the annual rate of inflation had been 2.4 per cent, while this year it is likely to be 7 per cent.
When asked what rate of pay his side wanted in the negotiations, Mr Callinan said it would not be helpful to negotiate a deal "on the airwaves".
Ictu had "made it clear" they were prepared to adjust their position, “but it takes two to tango,” he added.