Up to 8,000 public sector redundancies are due to be sought in Ireland, ministers said.
The move was not just about cutting pay but ensuring the whole system delivered effectively, they said.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton confirmed 8,000 public sector redundancies will be sought. He told RTE: "The numbers have been published - it's of that order."
He also defended Cabinet colleague James Reilly over his explanation of the selection of sites for primary care centres.
Mr Bruton said Mr Reilly was a reforming minister.
He added that his colleague had set out in detail in the Dail the criteria under which sites in his constituency were added to a list of locations.
Mr Bruton said the important challenge for Mr Reilly now was to reform the entire health service.
Some grassroots Labour Party members are to meet in Dublin on Wednesday to express unhappiness with the minister and call for his resignation.