DUP leader proposes pay freeze
Public sector pay and recruitment freezes have been proposed by the DUP as a way to avert major job losses in the looming £4 billion-plus round of cuts.
First Minister and party leader Peter Robinson said imposing restraints was far preferable to seeing people joining dole queues.
The DUP is recommending that none of the 1,000 posts vacated each year among the Northern Ireland Civil Service's 29,000 workforce are filled over the next four years, and that salaries for those earning more than £21,000 are frozen for 24 months.
But this has been met with anger by union bosses, who claim civil servants already get a raw deal in terms of pay.
While the move, which is part of the DUP's wider blueprint to deal with the cuts, would save an estimated £500 million, Mr Robinson said it would reap even more if it was adopted by the rest of the public sector - which employs over 100,000 more staff.
The Executive only has direct control over civil service pay, but it does control the overall budgets distributed to other public bodies.
Mr Robinson urged them to take the same approach to absorb the cuts.
"I don't think it is something you would do with any great enthusiasm but it is necessary under the special circumstances.
"Far better in my view that we keep people in jobs rather than having to reduce the number of jobs and put people on the dole."
He added: "We hope the bodies responsible will follow the lead we're giving. However we do control their budgets to a large extent and we can legislate if required."