EMPLOYERS and trade unions need to be more flexible when involved in wage bargaining, the minister for labour affairs has said.

Minister Dara Calleary told a labour relations conference that the challenge lay in ensuring wages were fixed in a way that did not impact on economic performance or on employment levels.

The minister said he was concerned that mechanisms for the setting of wages had not responded to the adverse labour market. "A tangible recognition that we are experiencing unprecedented economic turbulence might see less legal challenges being mounted and less vociferous demands for the scrappage of the entire system," he said.