The package, agreed in talks between government, unions and employers, is for a 7% pay rise over 18 months, a rise in the national minimum wage to ¤7 an hour, plus improvements in parental leave and maternity rights. But the union executive has dismissed the offer as inadequate because of Ireland's inflation rate of almost 5%. It believes it could win a better deal in private negotiations with retailers.
In a bid to reassure Mandate and other union critics, the government has promised to create an inflation watchdog and to consider "temporary price controls, where appropriate". Union members are voting now and a delegate conference will make the final decision on the pay offer at the end of this month.