BERLIN -- German industrial union IG Metall said some 43,000 workers held brief stoppages on Tuesday to support a union pay claim, hitting production at 96 companies including Ford Europe and Porsche AG.
Thousands of workers have taken part in short walkouts at plants across Germany since pay talks between the union and employers broke down last week.
IG Metall, which represents 3.5 million workers in the engineering and manufacturing sector, is demanding a four percent pay rise and has rejected an offer from employers of two separate rises of 1.2 percent over 27 months.
It also rejects employer demands on changes to rules on working hours.
The union said workers walked out in plants in Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saarland, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Lower Saxony, the northern coastal region, Thuringia and Berlin for an average of around two hours at various times in the day.
A Ford Europe spokesman said some 10,000 workers had stopped work for over an hour at the group's plant in Cologne, where IG Metall held a demonstration.
IG Metall said 1,500 demonstrators gathered for around an hour outside Porsche AG's sleek, metallic headquarters in the Stuttgart suburb of Zuffenhausen.
Around 1,300 workers also downed tools at DaimlerChrysler AG plants including the group's sprawling factory complex at nearby Sindelfingen.
The campaign continues on Wednesday, when 23 companies will be affected in Baden-Wuerttemberg, 14 in the Frankfurt region and more than 30 in Lower Saxony, the union said.
Talks in Baden-Wuerttemberg, which traditionally leads pay negotiations for the rest of Germany and where both DaimlerChrysler and Porsche are based, are due to resume on Thursday. Several rounds of talks in other regions are planned in the coming weeks.
The union has said it will decide on its future strategy this week and will continue with its campaign of limited stoppages but is some way off calling for an all-out strike despite continuing differences over both pay and working hours.
Employers are asking workers to accept variable hours to match demand. IG Metall says that would represent the return of the 40-hour week and would amount to a 17.5 percent cut in wages. It also says it could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.