SINDELFINGEN, Germany (AP) -- Germany's biggest industrial union began a new round of talks with employer representatives on Tuesday to reach a wage deal and stave off a full-fledged strike.
IG Metall is seeking an 8 percent raise for the 3.6 million workers it represents in the metal and electronic industries.
So far, industry employers -- largely in the automotive sector and including Audi, Daimler AG and BMW AG -- have offered only a 2.1 percent raise, with a 0.8 percent one-time payout, based on salary.
Several rounds of talks have failed to produce any results, as employers argue that the credit crunch and financial meltdown makes a better offer unrealistic.
Tuesday's talks were expected to last well into the night.
Joerg Hofmann, IG Metall's regional head in Baden-Wuerttemberg, where the talks are taking place, estimated the chances of an agreement at less than 50 percent.
"The other side must take a step back," Hofmann told reporters as he walked into a bargaining session.
Jan Stefan Roell, regional representative for the employers, said both sides are "very far apart," and insisted that the effects of the global financial crisis could not be ignored.
"We need to talk about the financial situation," Roell said.
While IG Metall has defended its requested wage hike as justified because companies' profits increased 220 percent between 2004-2007 -- a time when wages effectively increased by only 8.7 percent -- union leader Berthold Huber has also indicated they would accept less.
In an effort to keep up the heat, around 10,000 union members briefly walked off their jobs in Nuremberg early Tuesday in an effort to drive home their threat of a full-blown strike if the two sides fail to reach a deal. IG Metall has said it could hold a strike vote on Nov. 13 and be ready to hit the pickets four days later.
IG Metall represents workers in the electric, textile, wood, plastic, automobile, iron and steel industries. Blanket wage deals are negotiated by regional branches, but would apply to everyone in the industry.