"IG Metall's executive board has recommended all regional wage committees to call for wage rises of to 5.5 percent in the 2013 wage round for the metalworking and electrical sectors," the union said in a statement.
"Demands for up to 5.5 percent more money is appropriate, affordable for companies and provides impulses for private consumption," said chief Berthold Huber.
But the employers' federation Gesamtmetall disagreed.
"The demand is not appropriate for an industry that is experiencing zero growth," said Gesamtmetall president Rainer Dulger.
"It is too high. We have to see what the outlook for the industry will be when the key phase of negotiations begin. It's not looking very good at the moment," Dulger said.
Traditionally, the annual pay round for the 3.7 million workers in Germany's electrical, engineering, automobile and metalworking sectors is held on a regional basis, with one region acting as a benchmark for all the others.
The regional wage committees are scheduled to convene on March 13th to discuss their formal pay demands.
Last year, following a number of very lean years in the wake of the financial and economic crisis, IG Metall was able able to secure a 4.3 percent pay rise for its members compared with an initial demand of 6.5 percent.
The pay talks in the metal-working sector also set the tone for other areas of industry.
The European Central Bank aims to keep inflation close to, but below two percent and has praised German unions for their pay restraint.