Major disagreements have arisen on outsourcing and Saturday working

Tom Geraghty of the Public Service Executive Union suggested the odds on a deal being reached were lengthening. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Unions believe that talks on a new public service pay agreement will probably end next Wednesday.

However there is still considerable disagreement between the Government and trade unions on key non-pay issues such as outsourcing and Saturday working .

Government and union negotiators are expected to begin talks in earnest on Tuesday on the highly controversial issues of pay and pensions which have largely been avoided up to now.

The Government has maintained that the fiscal space available next year for dealing with public service pay, as well as other issues , would be limited to about €200 million.

Talks on Friday centred on non-pay issues and ended without any breakthrough on Government proposals to relax existing rules on the outsourcing of public services which unions have ruled out completely.

It is understood in a revised draft document tabled on Friday the Government again proposed that projects valued at up to €10 million should be exempt from existing restrictions on outsourcing of services.

In addition the Government again proposed dropping current rules under which labour costs cannot be included in any business case to out-source an existing public service

Unions are also unhappy at Government proposals that there should be talks on options for incorporating Saturday as part of the normal working week which would commence immediately and conclude by the end of 2017.

Government representatives are expected to formally table proposals on pay and pensions on Tuesday.

The Government has indicated that while it is prepared to roll back the existing public service pension levy, which currently averages about 5 per cent , it also wants certain groups of public service personnel to contribute more for their existing pension arrangements.

This could particularly affect staff who were employed prior to 2013 when a revised pension scheme was introduced and to groups such as gardai, judges and military personnel who accrue pension benefits at a faster rate than most others.