Nurses have become the latest public sector workers to ratchet up pressure on the Government with threats of industrial action if it imposes pay cuts.
Unions have three more days to reach agreement with industrial relations mediator Kieran Mulvey, who has spent the last two weeks trying to coax them back to pay talks.
But the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) warned that unilateral moves to touch their pay could be met with a strike.
Union president Claire Mahon said there had been unanimous agreement for members to ballot for industrial action as part of a public sector-wide campaign.
“The choice will be government’s,” Ms Mahon said.
“We are willing to re-engage. We are willing to make payroll savings and we have made suggestions of alternative measures which can produce savings without any further reduction in our income, in our pay rates, in our premium rates or increase our hours of work.”
Delegates at the INMO annual conference passed an emergency motion on public service pay.
It mandates the union to explore alternatives to the rejected Croke Park II proposals, ballot members for industrial action should pay cuts be imposed, and to actively protest with other unions.
The INMO said the resounding message from its conference in Co Donegal was “No to any more cuts”.
“The overwhelming rejection of the proposals has not convinced the Government that it must look at alternative ways to find additional funding, the most equitable of these being a progressive taxation system,” Ms Mahon added.
Several unions overwhelmingly rejected pay cuts and reforms under Croke Park II earlier this year.
Labour Relations Commission chief executive Mr Mulvey was appointed at the end of April to try to break the ongoing deadlock between the unions and Government.
He now has until Monday to conclude talks with representatives before reporting back to Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, who will bring the latest updates before Cabinet on Tuesday.
Mr Howlin said today: “To achieve these objectives, we must get by agreement across the house, the payroll savings we must get, to meet the very challenging payroll savings.”
The Government remains committed to shaving 300 million euro off the public sector pay and pensions bill this year, and one billion euro by 2015.
Unions have said they are fiercely opposed to unilateral cuts. Prison officers and the country’s lowest paid public servants are among those who have already threatened strike action in such an event.
Among the unions to vote against the original Croke Park II deal were Siptu, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), the Association of Secondary Teachers’ of Ireland (Asti), the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), the Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) and the Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU).