The union Aslef said it was "disappointed by the lack of action and any meaningful pay offer" from the newly nationalised transport operator.
As a result, union leaders insisted they had "no option" but to ballot their members for action.
It comes after ScotRail was formally taken into public ownership on April 1 this year, with Aslef Scottish organiser, Kevin Lindsay, saying there had been hope that the change of ownership may spark a "new era of positive industrial relations".
But he said: "We are beyond disappointed by the lack of action and any meaningful pay offer from ScotRail.
"Just a few weeks ago, we were celebrating our trains being taken back into public ownership, we hoped this would herald a new era of positive industrial relations, but it appears the same senior managers are determined to resort back to the failed strategies of the past."
He continued: "We have been left with no option but to ballot our members. We are determined to ensure that our members, the key workers who kept the railways going throughout the pandemic are rewarded appropriately and that their pay reflects rising inflation and the cost of living pressures they face.
"We hope that ScotRail and the Scottish Government will change tack and get back round the negotiating table in a meaningful way.
"Aslef is committed to, and available for, talks at any time to help solve this impasse."
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: "Rail unions have long campaigned for public ownership and this Scottish Government has delivered our railways back into the public sector control."
He added: "The transport minister has frequently met with rail unions in recent months and we absolutely understand the unions' desire to negotiate a fair settlement for their members.
"Very recently, the minister has provided clear support for the RMT in their current pay dispute with Network Rail at a UK level."
The spokesman continued: "Rail unions are aware any additional increase above public sector pay policy amounts have a clear process which must be followed which includes Cabinet approval.
"Noting that all ScotRail employees have already received the previously negotiated and agreed 2.2% increase for this year, we would encourage them to continue meaningful dialogue with ScotRail so a mutually agreeable outcome can be reached as soon as possible.
"It is our intention for ScotRail and its staff to benefit from the transition to public sector control and that is why we would call on everyone involved to take time to consider all options carefully."