BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's biggest industrial union on Monday expanded a campaign of brief strikes to underline its demand for a hefty pay hike, while employers stuck to their insistence on a moderate increase.
The IG Metall union said more than 30,000 workers were participating in brief "warning strikes" and protests in several parts of the country, with companies targeted including industrial conglomerate Siemens AG and car maker Volkswagen AG. More stoppages were planned on Tuesday.
IG Metall has called for an 8 percent pay increase for a broad range of manufacturing employees, arguing that workers deserve a share in Germany's upturn over recent years.
While the union has indicated that it would settle for less, it has firmly rejected an offer from employers of a 2.1 percent increase plus a one-time payment. It opened a campaign of brief walkouts -- a common tactic in German wage negotiations -- on Saturday.
"We don't want to overburden industry, but we want workers to have a part" in companies' recent gains, union leader Berthold Huber said on ZDF television.
The union argues that companies' profits have risen far faster than wages, but employers say the global financial crisis makes a better offer unrealistic.
The employers' top representative in southwestern Germany, Jan Stefan Roell, argued that "the sun is going down, it's getting colder, and so the deal will have to be less than the last one."
In the last wage round in early 2007, the union demanded a 6.5 percent increase, but settled for 4.1 percent immediately and another 1.7 percent this year.
In Germany, most wage contracts are negotiated between the union and regional employer associations representing entire sectors, not company by company.
The deal that emerges from IG Metall's negotiations with employees will cover some 3.6 million workers.