Both sides in the Birmingham City Council pay and grading dispute have reason to feel cautiously optimistic about the suspension of today's 24-hour strike and agreement to conduct two weeks of intensive negotiations.
Cabinet equalities and human resources member Alan Rudge has played a canny hand during the past month or so, refusing to bow to threats of crippling industrial action while letting it be known privately that he would be prepared to talk about ways in which the impact of wage cuts on more than 4,500 people could be softened.
Whatever the unions have had to say about the council's supposed refusal to negotiate, the truth is that talks both official and unofficial have continued since the first one-day strike on February 5. In fact, there have probably been more talks about pay and grading proposals among council leaders and the unions than any other issue facing the local authority in recent times. Union leaders know this to be the case and also know that yesterday's breakthrough could lay the groundwork for an honourable settlement.
Cleverly, Coun Rudge has is stressing that almost half of the council workforce will actually be better off under the new pay and grading system. Many of these, in particular low-paid women workers, will bank wage rises of up to £5,000 a year and considerably more in back pay. They, presumably, have no great enthusiasm for strike action.
The unions, for all their bluster, know that support for the first one-day strike was by no means overwhelming. Just under half of the council's union membership supported the call to down tools - equivalent to a quarter of the entire workforce - and many services were unaffected by the strike. It should also be noted that only a quarter of council union members bothered to take part in the ballot for strike action.
The unions have, therefore, done well to make progress. They have already wrenched a number of concessions from Coun Rudge and now have a fortnight to negotiate an even stronger protection package for those who stand to lose money under the new pay system.
Both sides know they will have to give more ground if a final settlement of this complex issue is to be achieved. Two weeks is a very long time in politics, and the signs are that jaw jaw will finally prevail over war war.