Union federations involved in the public sector wage negotiations want to settle because the chaotic state of the strike might turn communities against the labour movement.
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa), the National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) and the National Professional Teachers Union (Naptosa) yesterday said they were worried about the aftereffects of the four-week-old public sector strike.
"We are professionals and should clearly behave as such," said Fedusa's secretary-general Dennis George.
"What was set out as an amicable wage demand has now got out of hand and we are afraid that the people we serve out there will no longer take us seriously."
He said it was unnecessary to continue with the strike because the school holidays had already started. George said the labour movement should cut its losses and agree to settle.
The Health and other Services Personnel Union (Hospersa) falls under Fedusa. Naptosa and Hospersa have withdrawn from the strike. Hospersa has already accepted the government's 7,5percent offer.
Cosatu-led unions are still demanding a 9percent increase.
Nactu spokesman Mahlomola Skosana said the labour movement had made its point with the bitter strike.
"We seem to be losing control. Cracks are beginning to show as the strike is losing what it was set out to do. Instead we are seeing a crumbling public service and disgruntled citizens," said Skosana.
Nactu is represented by two affiliates representing health workers, teachers and other civil servants.
Naptosa's president David Balt said his organisation was looking forward to signing an acceptable offer.
"We have suspended the strike. Our goal is for all this to come to an end."
Fikile Majola, spokesman for the Cosatu-affiliated National Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), said his organisation was consulting other members in the congress about accepting the government's offer.
"When people set out to strike they must also have the initiative to stop it.
"This has been dragging on for so long that it seemed it would not end.
"We had to come together and take a decision," said Majola after Nehawu's congress in Pretoria yesterday.
The government met union representatives last night for what both sides called the final round of negotiations.
Late yesterday afternoon Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said: "Our final decision will be guided by what comes out of the meeting tonight."