The Civil and Public Service Union, which represents 13,000 lower paid civil servants, has decided to ballot its members for industrial action over Government measures to cut the €20 billion public pay bill.

Deputy General Secretary Eoin Ronayne said the combined effect of the pension levy and the deferral of the national wage increases were equivalent to a 12% pay cut.

The union acknowledges the hardship faced by private sector workers and rising unemployment, but says it must defend its members through industrial action - if necessary.

Mr Ronayne said it would not be the union's intention to impact on the public who need its services, but warned that any action would have to be wide ranging and widespread.

The executive of the Irish Nurses Organisation is also meeting today. It has warned that it will strongly resist any attempt to cut the pay of its 40,000 members.

Meanwhile, the Public Service Executive union, which represents 10,500 mid-ranking civil servants, confirmed that its members will join IMPACT's nationwide lobby of politicians constituency offices on Saturday.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said industrial action in the civil and public sector as a result of the pensions levy would be 'disappointing'.

He said decisions made last week by the Government were made in the interest of economy. He said he hopes that the public services will not be affected if any action is decided on.