All sectors of the public service, including health, education and local authorities, are to be hit by industrial action from next week as unions kick off the first phase of their campaign against the pay cuts imposed in the budget.

The teacher unions have instructed their members not to participate in parent-teacher meetings held outside school hours.

In health, the action includes non-cooperation with the wide-ranging transformation change programme agreed with the unions just days before the collapse of the national partnership talks in early December.

This programme included acceptance of a core working day of 8am to 8pm, which would have significantly increased the number of day procedures completed in hospitals.

Health workers will begin a work to rule, which means they will withdraw all 'good will services' and refuse to work beyond their shifts.

Civil servants in other government departments will refuse to answer phones or operate computers "in certain areas". Some public offices will be closed outside 9.15am-1pm and 2.30pm- 5.30pm, reversing a hard- won victory by management to agree lunchtime opening.

Civil servants have also threatened to "black" information requests to answer parliamentary questions from "certain departments" and ministerial representatives. Government TDs will also be intensely lobbied.

A senior union source said only full-scale strike action will force the government back to the negotiating table. But he conceded that strikes are unlikely until February at the earliest.