CARETAKERS' strikes, which threatened to upset exams in Kirklees schools, have been called off.
A pay deal was reached yesterday between the caretakers' employer Jarvis and the Unison and GMB unions.
Thirty-six caretakers and six maintenance staff at 19 Kirklees schools had voted to strike over Jarvis's refusal to give them pay parity with caretakers employed by Kirklees Council.
The strikes were set to be held next Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and on May 23, 24 and 25. Some of the dates were expected to clash with GCSE exams at high schools.
Jarvis and the unions had been in talks arranged by Kirklees Council and Jarvis made a pay offer on Monday - which was rejected by caretakers at a meeting that night.
An improved offer was made on Wednesday, but before caretakers could consider the second offer, Jarvis made a third offer yesterday morning.
The offer means Jarvis caretakers will get £1,000 to £2,000 more a year.
This puts them on similar pay to council caretakers, though they work on a different pay system.
Caretakers have voted to accept the offer and call off the strikes.
Mike Forster, Kirklees Unison chief education steward, said: "We are pleased with the result.
"There are still many differences in the pay systems but not enough to cause industrial action. We would not have got anything without the caretakers threatening to take strike action.
"We are counting it as a victory for the caretakers in the fact of a company that has been one of the worst employers we have had to deal with."
A spokesman for Jarvis said: "We are pleased we have been able to come to an agreement with the caretakers."
If the strikes had gone ahead, Jarvis could have been fined thousands of pounds by Kirklees Council for breaching its contract to provide services for schools, even in the event of industrial action.