The head of Germany's engineering and metalworkers union IG-Metall was quoted in the German press at the weekend as saying that the union will call its members out on strike after Easter if no satisfactory pay offer is forthcoming, according to Reuters.

The union is seeking a pay rise of 5% but the industry employers' group Gesamtmetall has said it cannot afford more than 1.2%.

Warning strikes are due to start this week - the first taking place on Tuesday night at midnight.

Employers and unions are meeting today around the country for regional talks. According to the dpa-AFX news agency, the most important are in Darmstadt where the parties will meet for the third round of talks for three of the country's states - Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz and Saarland. These talks will set the tone for the whole sector.

Union leaders are divided on the likely outcome of talks. Some have been quoted saying that they do not see much chance for an agreement, others are more hopeful.

The IG Metall union represents around 3.4m workers in the German metal and electrical industries.