Talks between Royal Mail and its main union will rumble on over the Christmas break, with both parties hopeful of breaking the deadlock and averting New Year strikes.
Top secret negotiations between the postal giant and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have been ongoing since the end of October.
The talks, which were initially held in the presence of mediators, followed a High Court ruling blocking an earlier planned 48-hour walkout.
Both parties provided an update at the start of December. The CWU said a "philosophical agreement" had been struck, while Royal Mail alluded to an "agreement on some issues".
A Royal Mail spokesperson said today both sides had "continued to make progress in talks on pay, pensions and the other issues", adding:
These talks will continue in the New Year as both parties seek to reach agreement.
On Wednesday, the CWU issued a statement on social media that also referenced talks "progress". It said Royal Mail had proposed an "actual increase" in basic pay and a shorter working week. Pensions discussions appeared to be more developed with both sides finalising lump sum payments after agreeing on a changes and the launch of a new scheme.
Royal Mail's stock market valuation has risen by over 20 per cent since mid-November as markets were buoyed the prospect mass Christmas walkout by the CWU's 110,000 members could be averted. Analysts were pleased chief executive Moya Greene had grasped the nettle led talks from Royal Mail's side.