The Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation is to ballot its 40,000 members in pursuit of special recruitment and retention measures to address the current staffing crisis.
The organisation is also demanding acceleration of the restoration of pay.
The action would start with a work to rule and move to one-day stoppages.
The INMO executive met today to endorse the ballot after 12 regional consultation meetings.
The union said the ballot will also be to protest over the current working environment and the failure to recruit and retain staff.
The ballot will seek accelerated restoration of cuts to pay and conditions required under the Landsdowne Road Agreement.
Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation is to ballot 40,000 members for industrial action in pursuit of accelerated restoration of pay cuts. pic.twitter.com/f6zvGW1Ej8— Fergal Bowers (@FergalBowers) November 8, 2016
Th General Secretary of the INMO, Liam Doran, said that nurses and midwives had lost patience with the empty promises of employers.
He added that the Lansdowne Road Agreement time frame can not deliver.
The INMO ballot will start on 24 November and end on 15 December.
The union's executive council will meet on December 15 to review the outcome and if industrial action is supported, decide the timeline and format of the action.
The union will then have to give three weeks' notice to the Health Service Executive.