The latest plan to cut the public sector pay bill received a boost when the country's largest nursing union agreed to recommend acceptance of the deal.

The executive council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, which had opposed the original agreement, said the new Haddington Road deal was in their members "best interests".

However, the Civil Public and Services Union, which represents lower paid civil servants and rejected the previous plan, is to recommend rejection of these latest proposals.

Both the CPSU and the INMO spearheaded resistance to the Croke Park II proposals and walked out of talks before they concluded.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has said that the decision by the INMO to recommend acceptance of the proposals is to be welcomed.

On RTÉ's Six One News, Liam Doran, General Secretary of the INMO, said the Haddington Road deal was better than the alternative of Government-imposed legislation which would cause more problems.

Mr Doran said: "We had called for a rejection earlier because we felt the proposals were disproportionate on shift workers, they were discriminatory on care, and on females in the workforce." 

Mr Doran said: "Those issues have been removed from this latest set of proposals.”

He said the union was still concerned with a proposed extension of the working week by an hour and a half and the new graduate programme.

Following a meeting of the CPSU executive, General Secretary Eoin Ronayne said that in line with the position adopted by the union at its Annual Delegate Conference recently, the executive is recommending a no vote.

Mr Ronayne said the executive believed that there had been "progress" in the Haddington Road proposals compared to the Croke Park II proposals, which had been rejected by a majority of public service unions.

However, he said the union was particularly unhappy at the requirement to work an extra 2.25 hours per week and a three-month increment freeze.

He said those measures were tantamount to a pay cut for lower paid workers.

The CPSU executive is also concerned about provisions permitting a minister to alter terms and conditions and impose change.

He described them as a step too far, which would undermine collective bargaining.

Mr Ronayne said the union would not consider a ballot for industrial action until after they had a result from the ballot on Haddington Road.