A number of public service unions have commenced a nationwide work-to-rule in protest at the Government's decision to cut the pay of State employees.

However, it is unclear to what extent the public will be directly affected by the policy of non-cooperation with efficiency.

Meanwhile, Labour Relations Commission Chief Executive Kieran Mulvey will start trying to find a basis to get management and unions talking, to avoid what he described as 'gridlock' in the public service.

There are no visible pickets or protests, but the work-to-rule constitutes damaging industrial action nonetheless spanning health, education the civil service and local authorities.

The Health Service Executive has said that there has been no significant impact so far from the work- to-rule.

A spokesperson said there has been some problems with answering phones, information technology and data reporting.

However, there has been no implication for patient services at this point.

Government sources suggest that they will be taking a softly, softly approach in responding the work-to-rule, barring any impact on patient safety in health.

This may allow time for Mr Mulvey to try to find some kind of basis to get the Government and the unions back to the negotiating table and avoid further industrial action.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week in Politics, he warned that the work-to-rule could result in gridlock throughout the public sector.

With Tánaiste Mary Coughlan refusing to rule out further public sector pay cuts, any discussions might have to focus on measures for 2011 and 2012, including pay and the transformation agenda for the public service.