Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe has said pay cuts for public service workers will form part of the Government's considerations in drawing up plans for €2bn worth of savings in current spending.

The Cabinet is due to meet next week to discuss plans.

Speaking in Cork, Mr O'Keeffe said the Government would be looking at all aspects of pay and conditions to see where savings could be made.

He said the Government hoped that the Social Partners would play a role in that process but at the end of the day the Government would have to govern and it would make a decision.

War with workers will not solve crisis - SIPTU

Meanwhile, SIPTU has said the Government will not solve the economic crisis by embarking on a war with workers.

SIPTU President Jack O'Connor said that if the Government attempted unilaterally impose pay cuts, it would ultimately lead to strikes and industrial unrest.

In a letter to its members SIPTU has said it believes a relentless campaign is already underway to impose savage salary cuts.

The country's largest union is strongly resisting the principle of pay cuts as an element of forthcoming Social Partnership talks.

The latest round of talks is expected to take place sometime this week.

Nurses rule out pay cuts

Earlier, the Irish Nurses Organisation said it has received legal advice to the effect that the Government cannot reduce the pay of individual nurses and midwives.

The union said it would be seeking clarification that reductions in pay would not be on the agenda for meetings between the Government and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions this week.

INO General Secretary Liam Doran said the INO had written to Minister for Health Mary Harney and Health Service Executive chief Professor Brendan Drumm about the issue.

Mr Doran says that after comprehensive legal advice, the organisation is satisfied that any attempt to reduce pay for nurses and midwives can be successfully resisted.

The INO says it will not make any deals or enter any negotiations on pay cuts for its members.

Mr Doran claims suggestions of pay reductions in the public sector are designed to allow for cuts for private sector workers.

And he says the INO will take whatever action is necessary to protect members' interests on pay.

PDFORRA says 'No' to pay cuts

The group that represents enlisted soldiers has said it sees no need for cuts in the pay of its members.

PDFORRA acknowledges deteriorating public finances but does not think pay cuts are necessary.

However the association, which also represents sailors and aircrew in the Defence Forces, has stated that it will constructively engage with Government to help address the worsening public financial situation.

The statement comes following a Department of Finance briefing on the deteriorating economic and budgetary environment.

Deputy General Secretary of PDFORRA Simon Devereux said members of the Defence Forces work long hours in difficult circumstances on behalf of the State and deserve to have their incomes maintained.

Mr Devereux also said any solution must take account of the reforms that the Defence Forces have undergone in recent years.

The strength of the Defence Forces has decreased from 12,700 to 10,500 while activity on land, sea and air has significantly increased.

The Defence budget has fallen to 0.7% of GNP - one of the lowest in the EU.

In tandem with other public sector unions and ICTU, PDFORRA will discuss the current economic and budgetary difficulties in an effort to reach a solution that is fair to its members and helps to restore sustainable public finances.