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BERLIN (AP) — Employers in Germany's key manufacturing sector are offering a pay increase that falls well short of the 5.5 percent raise a union is seeking for some 3.7 million workers.

The employers' association in the southern region of Bavaria is offering a 2.3 percent increase over a 13-month period, news agency dpa reported Friday. The IG Metall union is seeking the bigger raise as part of a 12-month deal.

The union argues that companies in Germany — where the economy is in better shape than in many other European countries — can afford a 5.5 percent increase. It also says such a raise would bolster private spending.

Last year, IG Metall secured a 4.3 percent increase after going into negotiations with a call for a 6.5 percent raise.

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