TALKS on a new Croke Park deal on public sector pay and reform will begin in January.
The Government held preliminary discussions with the union leadership yesterday, but no firm proposals were put on the table.
The Irish Independent understands there will be ongoing contacts next month and the Labour Relations Commission will also be involved.
The public sector unions are expected to use this time to consult with their executives to get agreement on entering talks.
A chairman for the negotiations is also expected to be identified.
The process is expected to take some shape by Christmas and formal talks will begin in January.
Sources involved in the preliminary talks said Government officials set out why the Coalition felt new negotiations on extending the talks were needed and how it felt an extra €1bn could be saved from the public sector pay bill.
After the initial discussion, public sector unions warned they would not accept anymore cuts to pay for lower-paid workers.