(Limerick East): The Deputy will be aware of the joint Government-ICTU statement of 15 May in which they outlined their commitment to meet, in partnership, the substantial changes in the public service and to achieve the necessary restructuring in a positive and constructive way. This statement arose from a series of discussions which were held in the light of public service pay negotiations and the continued failure of a number of groups to reach agreement on restructuring under clause 2 (iii) (a) of the public service agreement on pay, incorporated in the Programme for Competitiveness and Work.
The statement also outlined the development of a framework aimed at achieving the continuation and successful completion of a number of outstanding sets of discussions. I immediately met with the nursing unions to ask them to consider their position in relation to the proposed new framework with a view to resolving the concerns of nurses in a positive way.
Over the past two days discussions have taken place with the nursing unions aimed at resolving, within the framework, the problems arising from the recently rejected offer. Progress has been made in these discussions and arrangements for a resolution have been identified. I hope the matter will be progressed further in the coming days.
Given the delicate balance to be struck in these negotiations, the Deputy will appreciate that any more detailed comments or statement by me would not be appropriate or helpful in bringing the talks to a successful conclusion at this stage.