Ahead of their strike action planned from 30 January, nursing unions will tomorrow meet the body that oversees compliance with the current public service pay agreement.

The Public Service Stability Agreement Oversight Body is chaired by the Workplace Relations Commission Director of Conciliation Anna Perry, and its members include senior trade unionists and officials of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

It examines disputes over compliance and or breaches of the PSSA.

The Government has argued that the nurses' planned strike action contravenes the PSSA's ban on cost-increasing claims and industrial action.

However, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association insist that their claim for parity with therapy grades like physiotherapists, which would equate to a 12% pay rise, is permissible under the PSSA as a measure to address the recruitment and retention difficulties in the health service.

If the nurses are deemed to have breached or "repudiated" the pay agreement, they will lose the benefits of the deal, and suffer penalties including an increment freeze.

Both the INMO and the PSSA overwhelmingly rejected proposals from the Public Service Pay Commission aimed at addressing recruitment difficulties through measures including a €20 million package of allowances.

The PSPC had argued that it was precluded by its terms of reference from considering a general pay claim - but left open the prospect of a new mechanism for examining their pay and conditions.

Today a Fianna Fáil motion calling for a judge-led commission to examine issues in the nursing sector was passed by 86 votes to 51.

Separately tomorrow, the three teacher unions will also meet the PSSA Oversight Body to discuss their rejection of the Government proposals on restoring pay equality for so-called "new entrants" recruited since 2011 on lower pay.

The 35,000 strong Irish National Teachers Organisation rejected the proposals by 53% to 47%, as did the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland.

The INTO is engaged in a consultation process prior to commencing a ballot for industrial action.

The ASTI Central Executive Committee will decide its next move on 26 January.

The Teachers Union of Ireland, which accepted the new entrant proposals by 53% to 47%, will also attend tomorrow's meeting with the Oversight Body.

However, it notes that its members rejected the PSSA in 2017, and in a simultaneous ballot, provided a mandate for a campaign of industrial action on the issue of pay inequality as directed by the union's executive committee.

The TUI says that this mandate can still be activated if and when the union sees fit, but that at present the union has not repudiated the pay agreement.

The TUI notes that schools are experiencing what it calls "severe" teacher recruitment and retention issues as a result of discriminatory pay rates. 

It also cites a fall of over 50% in the numbers applying for places on the Professional Master of Education (PME) postgraduate teacher education courses between 2011 and 2018.