South African public service unions say they are suspending a nationwide strike that has disrupted schools and hospitals.

Union officials made the announcement after meetings on Monday. However, the unions cautioned that they have not accepted the government's latest pay increase offer.

The government has proposed a 7.5 percent wage increase with a housing allowance of $110 per month. Unions are seeking an 8.6 percent increase and a housing allowance of $137.

The unions say they will decide over the next 21 days whether to take the government's offer.

Workers are expected to return to work Tuesday after three weeks of being on strike.

The South African government plans to make a statement later Monday.

The government last Thursday urged negotiators to find a prompt solution to the strike. The work stoppage has shut down schools and prompted army medics to take over many public hospitals.

Last week the majority of the unions, most of them affiliated with the COSATU federation, rejected the government's latest offer.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.