The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation is to ballot members in the public sector for industrial action.

The union is accusing the Government of failing to make a realistic pay offer amid soaring inflation.

The INMO says a week-long pre-ballot information campaign for members will begin on 24 August with a view to commencing balloting for industrial action on 1 September unless the Government makes an acceptable pay offer in the meantime.

"The decision to ballot nurses and midwives is not one that is taken lightly but the refusal of Government as the employer to act on spiralling cost of living has left us with very little choice," said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

The INMO is the latest public sector union to announce plans for industrial action ballots in the coming weeks.

Public sector pay talks were held at the Workplace Relations Commission 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 came on top of a 2% increase already provided for in the existing public sector pay deal, 'Building Momentum'.

Last week, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said the Government would make a "revised offer" to unions at the WRC when public sector pay talks resume either this week or next week.

He has said that both sides in the talks will need to be flexible in order for a realistic agreement to be reached.