The ICTU is recommending that unions seek a 4% rise per year
A former secretary-general at the Department of Finance says the Government should be looking at reducing the cost of living, rather than giving pay rises.
John Moran says just because the economy is recovering does not mean we should all be demanding pay increases.
Ministers have warned they will not break from Lansdowne Road - with Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar suggesting pay rises could impact on social welfare payments.
The private sector committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) is recommending that unions seek a 4% rise per year for workers. This would translate into a rise of €1,000.
Chair of the private sector committee, John Douglas, says the ICTU will circulate a briefing to affiliated unions setting out the rationale and key data in support of the pay claim.
Business group IBEC has condemned what it calls "the crude opportunism" of ICTU.
IBEC CEO Danny McCoy said: "The majority of private sector companies have been awarding pay increases over recent years.
"There is absolutely no justification for cost of living increases of 2% while the consumer price index remains below 2008 levels, with no emerging inflationary pressures in the economy."
Mr Moran told Newstalk Drive the focus should be on reducing the cost of living instead.
"If we had 50 million to give out...we could give everybody that travels on Dublin Bus 50 cents off their fare for an entire year.
"That would be real money in the pockets of everybody.
"And that would be bringing down the cost of living - that's a fiver: that's a lunch for somebody that goes to work everyday in Dublin."
"The focus of all of our attention should be on how to bring dowe the costs for everybody, not how to give a little bit more money to a smaller group of people to deal with those rising costs".
"Just because our economy is recovering, does not mean that we should be all demanding pay rises".