An end may now be in sight to one of the longest-running pay disputes after employers' and staff representatives met in London.
Staff on the joint negotiating committee had accused employers of reneging on a deal by seeking to delay implementation of new pay scales for up to 18 months.
An earlier stalemate led to the first-ever national strike by the Community and Youth Workers Union. Expectations that new pay scales would be back-dated to September 2003 was a key factor in the CYWU ending the industrial action.
Employers offered a pay increase of 2.7 per cent from September 2003 and 3.3 per cent from six months after that.
CYWU had threatened a ballot for further action unless employers changed their minds.