Thousands of health workers are to be balloted for possible strike action in the autumn.
Trade union Unite blamed health minister Edwin Poots’ refusal to authorise a pay rise for the threat.
The action is being coordinated with a ballot for industrial action in England and Wales.
The union said that it estimated that the 78,000 workers in Health and Social Care in the Province had seen their pay fall by up to 15 per cent in real terms since 2010.
Kevin McAdam from Unite said of Mr Poots: “The minister seems to want to play politics with our members’ pay and the health of Northern Ireland justifying his inactivity on the basis of the Executive log-jam over welfare reform.”
Although many NHS staff receive year-on-year pay increases, the union insists that these “incremental increases” are in recognition of increased knowledge and skills, but “are not part of the annual pay rise process”.