The Unite trade union has confirmed it plans to ballot its public sector members on possible industrial action in the wake of rising inflation.

It comes after SIPTU last month said its members across the public service will commence a consultation exercise in advance of ballots for industrial action.

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

Unite has issued a statement saying: "Following the Government's failure at the Workplace Relations Commission to make a realistic pay offer to address the cost of living crisis being faced by public sector workers, Unite members in the sector are preparing to ballot for industrial action to defend their living standards.

"Meetings of reps in the sector will be held during August to discuss the situation."

Unite said it represents several thousand public sector workers across all grades from its total membership of 70,000 across the island of Ireland.

The union's Regional Coordinating Officer Tom Fitzgerald said: "With inflation now likely to top 10% over the 2021/22 period of the current Building Momentum agreement, the Government’s offer in June of just 2.5% for the period amounts to a significant pay cut in real terms.

"The WRC has invited the Public Sector Committee of Congress and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to renewed talks, but we understand the Government has indicated it will not be in a position to attend those talks until the end of August.

"As we prepare to ballot for industrial action to defend living standards, Unite will be working with our reps during August to ensure that our members in the public sector are fully strike-ready".

Mr Fitzgerald said they hoped to conclude the ballot "around the end of August or early September".

He called on the Government to "engage with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in a serious way over the coming weeks and months and hopefully they do - that is the point behind the ballot".