Royal Mail's third round of postal strikes were called off last night after an interim peace deal was reached with the postal worker's union.
The 24-hour walk-outs were due to start today and continue on Monday, involving 120,000 workers, but leaders of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) agreed unanimously to postpone further action until the new year at least while talks take place, overseen by the arbitration service Acas and the Trades Union Congress.
The industrial dispute has been over the level of job losses the Royal Mail says are necessary as part of its modernisation plans.
While the CWU accepts that some redundancies are required, the two sides disagree over their extent, and they also disagree over changes to pay and working conditions for the Royal Mail staff who remain in their jobs, according to the BBC.
Full details of the interim settlement will be released later today, but the CWU said it guaranteed that modernisation would be introduced only with agreed job security and improved terms and conditions for postal workers, the Guardian reports.
The provisional settlement also addressed issues included in long-running local disputes, but the union stressed that a strike ballot remained in place.
Dave Ward, the union's deputy general secretary, said: "There needs to be exceptional efforts to improve trust and relationships between CWU and Royal Mail. As a result, both the TUC and Acas will have a continuing role to keep the discussions and agreement on track."
David Frost, the director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "We are glad some common sense has prevailed in the run-up to Christmas."