German engineering workers are gearing up for "massive" nationwide stoppages if a deal over pay increases is not reached by Easter, the powerful IG Metall union said this week, according to Reuters.

Detlef Wetzel, head of the union in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state, said that so-called warning strikes, typically stoppages of a few hours, were inevitable if no solution was found by Easter, according to the news agency.

Many car industry workers belong to IG Metall.

Speaking in the western city of Hagen, Wetzel reportedly called on employers to make an offer at the coming wage talks on Thursday.

"If that doesn't happen, then there can only be one answer on March 28: and that's warning strikes," he said, according to the report the news agency.

Reuters said Germany's biggest industrial union is seeking a pay rise of 5% for the nation's 3.2 million metalworkers, although most analysts believe they will get 3% at most.

Industry employers' group Gesamtmetall has said it cannot afford to increase wages by more than 1.2%.

IG Metall deputy head Berthold Huber told the news agency he was not confident a deal could be reached by Easter, adding that Gesamtmetall had yet to make "the faintest hint of an offer".

"You can't negotiate over nothing," he said, adding that "massive nationwide warning strikes" would likely follow if no agreement was reached with employers by the end of the month.