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Last Updated: Monday, 25 February 2008, 15:54 GMT
Council pay row strike suspended
Birmingham City Council workers join the strike, with support from their families
About 3,000 council workers took part in a protest rally on 5 February
A planned strike at the UK's biggest local authority has been suspended, it has been announced.

Workers at Birmingham City Council were set to take industrial action on Tuesday for the second time this month in a row over employment contracts.

The council and the joint trade unions said "two weeks of intensive talks" would take place, ending on 12 March.

A 24-hour strike on 5 February saw 168 schools and about half of the city's libraries close, the council said.

About half of the city's leisure centres were also shut for the day.

Our ideal joint outcome would be for only one core contract
Council statement

The action was in protest at a new pay and grading structure at the council, which unions claim will lead to some staff having their earnings cut in half.

The authority has said that the pay and grading review aimed to even out decades of unfair, over-inflated and inconsistent pay.

A statement released by the council and unions on Monday said both sides intended to ensure joint agreement.

But it said staff could be asked to "voluntarily agree to the deferment of its implementation should this be jointly agreed to be necessary" in order to complete a successful outcome to the talks.

The statement said: "Our ideal joint outcome would be for only one core contract whatever we negotiate is applied to both those who have accepted the new contract and those who have not."

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