A strike by West Midlands paramedics and ambulance crews has been averted following last-minute talks - but they could still take industrial action in the New Year.
The announcement that there would be no strikes over Christmas came following a day of talks between health bosses and the five different unions representing the workers.
Representatives from the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel (APAP), the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU), GMB and Unison will meet employers again on January 6.
Unison had balloted its members following claims that the Department of Health had interfered with a pay deal in July, which had already been agreed with ambulance services in the West Midlands and Shropshire.
The regional ballot showed 93 per cent of workers were willing to take some form of action, with 75 per cent in favour of striking.
Regional Unison organiser Ray Salmon said last night the talks had been extensive but positive.
"We have had some pretty intense discussions and have decided to set up working parties to look at some of the issues," he said.
"We will defer any industrial action and we want to try and resolve it by negotiation.
"We have finally got things on the table so we can work on what we have discussed and resolve it without cause to strike, although we reserve the right to strike."
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: "West Midlands Ambulance Service has today received notification from the trade unions of pending industrial action, following a members' ballot on a new pay structure.
"Talks between WMAS Senior Management and Trade Union Officials have continued all afternoon in an attempt to resolve the deadlock over new pay arrangements.
"The meeting was described as constructive, with both sides involved in seeking a satisfactory outcome to the sensitive question of a future pay framework."
Unison represents 850 of the 1,500 ambulance staff in the West Midlands and Shropshire and first issued the strike warning after the Birmingham and Black Country Strategic Authority intervened in pay talks between the union and ambulance services.
The health authority told ambulance service bosses not to announce a proposed new wage structure until comparisons had been made with two other ambulance services.
Union representatives argued job roles for paramedics and technicians had seen significant changes since the national ambulance service strike in 1989/90 and said although many members did not want to strike, they felt they were not being recognised for their hard work.
Through the earlier proposed pay changes, technicians would have seen a pay increase from £20,000 to £24,000 and the salary of paramedics would have grown from £21,000 to between £22,000 and £30,000.
But under a new system preferred by the health authority, Unison has raised concerns of technicians seeing a drop in wages by £1,500 a year, with no increase for paramedics. ..SUPL: