The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has deferred plans for a nationwide work-to-rule following talks at the Workplace Relations Commission.

The Executive Committee of the INMO decided to ballot members on proposals tabled at negotiations at the WRC this morning.

It will defer industrial action which had been planned for Tuesday.

The Executive Committee is recommending that members accept the proposals.

The dispute centres on staff shortages and incentives to recruit and retain nurses. 

Management sources estimated the cost of the proposals to address recruitment and retention issues for nurses at around €10m. The HSE had previously said that the nurses' demands would have cost €180m.

"The Executive Council has also decided, for strategic reasons, to recommend that members accept the proposals to secure immediate steps to address the staffing/ recruitment/retention crisis existing at this time," said the INMO in a statement.

"The Executive Council, in its assessment of developments, arising from the recent discussions, has also determined that the current agreement is incapable of recognising, and responding, to the extent of the difficulties facing the health service at this time. 

"The Organisation will now put in place arrangements for this ballot, in workplaces across the country, with a view to having it completed by the end of March," added the INMO.

The dispute has been rumbling on for months and before Christmas members of the INMO voted 90% in favour of industrial action.

"I welcome the deferral and respect the process the INMO is now undertaking to ballot its members and reiterate my commitment to working to invest in and further improve the Irish health service," said Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Earlier, SIPTU representatives agreed to consider revised nursing recruitment and retention proposals following 15 hours of talks with management at the WRC.

SIPTU representatives issued a statement this morning saying it is to consider revised nursing recruitment and retention proposals after talks at the WRC.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser Paul Bell, said: "At this stage of the negotiations we believe it is now prudent to present the revised position to the SIPTU National Nursing and Midwifery Committee.

"Some progress has been made during the talks process. Further dialogue may result in an acceptable outcome on the issues which remain outstanding."