TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has delivered a stark warning to public sector unions about dragging their heels on reforms under the Croke Park deal.
He signalled that the Government is losing patience with some public sector workers who have not implemented promised changes in rosters and working patterns.
A source said that he did not "mince his words" at the meeting in Government Buildings with unions that form part of the group charged with implementing the Croke Park deal.
Mr Kenny warned that the Government was facing extraordinarily difficult choices to achieve the €2.25bn in spending cuts in the forthcoming Budget.
He and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said that the only way to do this would be to get the maximum savings from the Croke Park Agreement.
A government spokesman said there was an urgent need to accelerate progress on new rosters and working arrangements in the health service, where the current deficit is €374m.
"Reform must take account of preserving frontline services, but delays in reform are not acceptable," he said.
The Government is hoping that the roster changes recently announced for consultants can be extended to other parts of the health service.
Other changes on the way include merging local authorities and scrapping some town councils -- which will lead to a cut in the number of senior council managers and officials.
The Government spokesman said frontline and outdoor services in councils had taken a big hit but "management layers" had been less affected.
Mr Kenny told the unions that he is going to push ahead with government plans to abolish or merge 48 quangos, and then move on to a further 46.
The spokesman said it would be using the Croke Park Agreement to ensure swift implementation of all such mergers.
And the Government wants unions to co-operate with cutting numbers in the public sector from 292,000 to 282,000.
The loss of 10,000 jobs will increase the pressure on the remaining public sector workers, who will have to cope with the extra workload.
Mr Howlin's voluntary redundancy scheme, which will pay five weeks per year of service, will be rolled out in the coming weeks.