German metalworker unions are threatening industrial action unless demands for a 6.5% wage increase and improvements in apprenticeship hiring are met.

The hugely powerful IG Metall union whose membership runs into millions of workers in Germany – of which between 700,000 and 800,000 work in the automotive sector – says it will take “short-time” industrial action on 28 April if its pay rise request is not met.

Despite most European countries suffering declines and vehicle over-capacity in a stagnant market, the German economy has continued to defy gravity, fuelled by booming car exports, with such confidence potentially triggering union pay requests.

“The demand is 6.5% [and] we want an agreement all young people who make apprenticeships will get a job after finishing,” an IG Metall spokesman in Germany told just-auto. “6.5% is quite a lot, but you have to consider there is development of productivity in the [German] economy and the rate of inflation this year and next year.”

The Federation of Metalworker Employers has offered a 3% rise for 14 months – a move that has led to IG Metall issuing its short-time strike threat that appears to stop short of an all-out walkout and which does not require a unanimous vote.

IG Metall is flexing its muscle at a time of huge uncertainty in Europe concerning over-capacity and the recent proposal by PSA Peugeot Citroen and General Motors for an alliance that will see purchasing and logistics come under the tie-up.

Cross-border union co-operation between PSA and GM labour bodies has also seen Opel and Vauxhall representatives engage in ways to present a common employee front as the alliance takes shape.