The proposed deal involves a 7 percent pay increase phased in over 18 months and other initiatives covering extra affordable housing, an increase in the minimum wage and higher statutory redundancy payments.
A series of national deals since 1987 — known as partnership agreements — have been a key element of the country’s recent prosperity.
Talks between employers and unions on attempts to negotiate a new deal to succeed the Program for Prosperity and Fairness, which expired Jan. 1, have been going on for weeks.
In the early hours of Monday morning, Bertie Ahern, Tanaiste Mary Harney and Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy joined the talks in Government Buildings in Dublin to put forward a seven point plan.
Turlough O’Sullivan, director general of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, said it was “very, very significant” that the top three members of the government had personally intervened to give the proposals their blessing.
“Some of it from our point of view is less attractive than others,” O’Sullivan said. “On the whole, though, I think we are going to have to consider it in the context of keeping the partnership process going, which has served the country extremely well.”
O’Sullivan said employers would be attracted by aspects of the deal covering compliance and the fact that some firms can plead inability to pay.
Sen. Joe O’Toole, president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said some of the proposals are “imaginative and attractive” and they are a “substantial outcome” to a lot of weeks of negotiations.
“Its like any deal one ever does: it results in a compromise at the end of the day,” O’Toole said. “The only way to describe a deal like this is that it’s a roller-coaster. There are good things in it and there are things that are not so good.”
The pay increases would be phased in with 3 percent for the first nine months, 2 percent for the next six months and 2 percent at the end.
O’Toole said 5 percent would have been paid within the first year.