The threat of strike action at Royal Mail has subsided after the postal operator reported mediation with CWU had been helpful, and suggested an agreement may eventually be reached over the long-running pay and pensions dispute.

"Mediation has helped both parties to better understand their respective positions," Royal Mail said.

The CWU was forced to take part in the mediation with Royal Mail after it lost a High Court battle over the legality of its industrial action ballot.

Workers voted to strike over the row, and a 48-hour walkout scheduled for 19 October.

However the High Court found in favour of Royal Mail, which claimed the planned action went against an Agenda for Growth both parties had signed in 2013.

The agenda stipulated that industrial action was only allowed after five weeks of mediation, but the CWU balloted members after just four.

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After the court ruling the CWU said the case had been a "desperate delaying tactic" on the part of Royal Mail and insisted court action was "inevitable.

However a statement posted on the union's Facebook page said the postal operator's "position has moved significantly" during the mediation talks.

The statement added: "To be clear, our dispute is far from over. If an agreement can be achieved without the need for industrial action this will be excellent work, however, if the talks go backwards or we feel management are being insincere at any stage of the negotiations we will not hesitate to issue notice."

The mediator, Lynette Harris, has written a series of recommendations for both sides of the dispute. While these are not legally binding, Royal Mail said the report had been "useful in framing future discussions".

Royal Mail added: "Royal Mail and the CWU are continuing talks with the aim of reaching agreement on the full range of issues under discussion.

"Agreement on certain issues is more advanced than on others but all issues remain open for negotiation and final agreement."