Nurses in the UK will watch with interest after it emerged tens of thousands of Irish nurses may be prepared to resign en masse unless they are given a pay rise.
Union leaders have warned they are considering the "nuclear option" which was used by nurses in Finland last November in a similar row over pay and conditions.
Both the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), which represent more than 45,000 nurses, said industrial relations chiefs have one last chance to resolve the pay rise row.
"No option - including the nuclear option - can now be ruled out," said Des Kavanagh, PNA general secretary.
"We will look at the experience of our colleagues in Finland... who eventually reached agreement with government but only at the 11th hour when they signed letters of mass resignation."
The action in Finland nearly brought the country's government to its knees, and neighbouring Sweden and Germany were asked to take emergency cases before the pay row was resolved at the last minute.
The INO and PNA said its members felt "angry" that last week's Public Service Benchmarking Body report did not recommend wage increases for almost all the country's nursing staff.
Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply) "No, I'm not prepared to resign, more money is always useful but I'm happy to have a job I enjoy. If I had wanted to earn big money I would not have been nurse" - Name and address supplied
"Why do we think that we are a special case? Yes I feel that our package should at least be on a par with the police, and I would certainly go for more Holidays. But we as a body are no more important to this country than any service provider, many of which work for minimal wage. For instance a qualified as a car mechanic with all the extra courses that allows him to MOT, electronics, and work on vehicles of any denomination will every day hold the life of a driver in his hands as he passes viewless safe for the road, any mistake he makes could result in a death and being struck off from the registers of MOT providers. The wages in most cases are very little above the minimal wage for which they works long and unsociable hours and have minimal holidays. The working life of a nurse is not easy, but would be made easier if we worked at regaining the respect and admiration for our profession that today is sadly missing" - Name and address supplied