SIPTU says its members across the public service will commence a consultation exercise in advance of ballots for industrial action.

The union is accusing the Government of failing to conclude an acceptable review of the pay provisions of the 'Building Momentum' Public Service Agreement.

The consultation will involve union members and activists in the health service, local government, education and the state sectors in the coming weeks.

In March, public sector unions and staff association triggered a review clause in 'Building Momentum' due to rising inflation.

Public sector pay talks were held at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in June but ended without agreement.

The Government had offered a 2.5% pay increase this year and a further 2.5% next year but unions rejected the deal saying it 'fell far short' of inflation.

The Government has pointed out however that the 5% pay rise offered to unions comes on top of a 2% increase already provided for in the existing public sector pay deal.

Earlier this month, union leaders announced plans for a coordinated campaign on public sector pay which may include ballots for industrial action.

In a letter to members of the Irish Congress of Trade Union's Public Services Committee, lead negotiators said they had now concluded that the Government was breaching the current public service pay agreement, 'Building Momentum’, by failing to conclude a review of the deal.

"We recommend that unions begin practical arrangements for balloting, to begin next month, pending a meeting of the Public Services Committee to coordinate the campaign," the letter stated.

Union leaders also said they were no longer prepared to discuss an extension of the Building Momentum agreement, to cover pay in 2023, until improved terms for 2021-2022 are agreed.

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary John King accused the Government of refusing to re-engage with the WRC to deal with the escalation of the cost of living which he said amounted to a breach of the terms of the current agreement.

"With the Dáil now in recess until early to mid-September, it is clear that the Government is not prepared to engage in meaningful discussions on the cost-of-living crisis," Mr King said.

"In these circumstances, we are now left with no alternative other than to ballot our members in order to protect their standard of living," he added.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform says the Government wants to reach an acceptable agreement with public service unions and that it is prepared to enter meaningful discussions with unions in order to achieve this.

"Far from refusing to re-engage with the Workplace Relations Commission, the Government has remained in close contact with the WRC throughout this process including last week," a Department spokesperson said.