TJ Strydom writes that the metalworkers' strike might be over by Monday. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and four smaller unions agreed yesterday to take the latest offer, brokered by the Department of Labour, to their members. The strike is now in its fourth week. The unions and employers are no longer at odds about the numbers, but about when work will resume and whether further negotiations will be allowed at company level. "The rallying call of '10, 10, 10' has been met," said Lucio Trentini, head of operations at the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of SA (Seifsa), referring to the 10% wage increase offer in each of the next three years for entry-level workers. For skilled employees, the offer entails an increase of 8% in the first year, 7.5% in the second and 7% in the third. Seifsa is worried about a clause in the agreement that leaves the door open for Numsa and other unions to down tools again at company level during the next three years. "This notion of double-dipping or two-tier negotiations will undermine the system of central bargaining we have had for more than two decades," said Trentini. The employers want the clause to make further wage talks at company level impossible until the deal has run its course. Solidarity's general secretary, Gideon du Plessis, said he thought workers would be back in the factories by Monday.