A meat inspectors strike scheduled to take place this week has been called off at the eleventh hour by union officials.

Up to 100 meat hygiene inspectors at abattoirs in the West Midlands were due to stay at home this week in protest at pension cuts affecting local government workers.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, decided to defer the industrial action pending talks with the Local Government to see if an agreement could be reached over the dispute.

The talks are aimed at reviewing new Government proposals to end the right of local government workers to collect their pensions at the age of 60 after 25 years of service.

A spokesman for Unison said: "In order to enable the talks to take place, it has been decided to defer the industrial action in the Meat Hygiene Service.

"Further action is being planned in the event that these discussions fail," he warned.

No animals can be slaughtered for public consumption without first being approved by meat hygiene inspectors.

The prospect of a strike led to fears that meat supplies to shops would be affected over Easter.