By Dan Levine SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) – Apple Inc, Google Inc and two other Silicon Valley companies are making progress toward settling a closely watched lawsuit where tech workers allege the companies conspired to avoid competing for each others employees in order to drive down wages. At a hearing on Thursday in federal court in San Jose, California, Google attorney Robert Van Nest said the companies and the plaintiffs have been consulting daily with a mediator to try to resolve the dispute, and that they are making progress. Kelly Dermody, an attorney for the plaintiffs, agreed with the assessment. Trial is currently scheduled to begin in May. The case began in 2011 when five software engineers sued Apple, Google, Adobe Systems Inc, Intel Corp and others over an alleged conspiracy to suppress pay by agreeing not to recruit or hire each others employees.