Hundreds of industrial workers walked off their jobs briefly early Sunday in the first wave of union-organized warning strikes aimed at winning wage increases of up to 6.5 percent.
Some 800 workers in the western state of Rheinland-Palatinate staged hour-long strikes at auto parts supplier Continental and other industrial plants, among the first to launch a wave of walkouts expected to spread throughout the coming week.
The IG Metall union is seeking a 6.5-percent wage increase this year for 3.4 million manufacturing workers, arguing that a large rise is justified by the nation's economic recovery after years of stagnation.
It has rejected an offer employers made last month of a 3-percent increase _ made up of a formal salary rise of 2.5 percent and a half-percent "economy bonus." The next round of talks is scheduled to take place on Thursday.
If no agreement is found by the end of April, IG Metall has said it is prepared to stage walkouts and rallies.
Pay negotiations in Germany are conducted industrywide and on a region-by-region basis. A deal in one region tends to set the pattern for the rest of the country.