Education Minister Ruairi Quinn says the Government has made no decision yet on imposing public sector pay cuts if no Croke Park II deal is struck.
But the country's largest nurses union is threatening to ballot for industrial action if there are unilateral pay cuts.
Mr Quinn said the Government still planned to make the €300m savings from the public sector pay bill.
He said the coalition had intended to find these savings in the cuts to higher level pay and other measures in the rejected Croke Park II deal.
Labour Relations Commission chairman Kieran Mulvey has until next Tuesday to broker a deal.
Mr Quinn said the Government is waiting for him to report back to Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin.
"We will have to wait and see what Brendan Howlin says to us next Tuesday," he said on RTE's Morning Ireand.
INMO general secretary Liam Doran said his union will ballot for industrial action if pay cuts are imposed.
The nurses union is holding its annual conference in Donegal this week.