* VW pay offer includes 2,800 apprenticeships in 2015-16
* Workers, enraged by offer, seek 5.5 pct raise
* Current contract expires Feb. 28 (Adds detail, comments from VW and labour representatives and background)
BERLIN, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Volkswagen offered to raise wages for workers at German factories by 2.2 percent, drawing harsh criticism from the IG Metall union which is pushing a 5.5 percent demand.
“This is not an offer, it’s impudence,” VW works council chief Bernd Osterloh said in a statement. “This workforce cannot only work, it can also fight for fair compensation if necessary.”
The carmaker’s pay offer also includes plans to create 2,800 apprenticeships in 2015 and 2016, Wolfsburg-based VW said on Thursday, noting the package pays heed to deteriorating conditions in key markets.
“VW is unable to extricate itself from (geopolitical) uncertainties,” the company’s chief pay negotiator, Martin Rosik said.
Europe’s largest automaker said on Wednesday it was bracing for a “challenging year” after reporting the fourth monthly drop in sales at its core division, with demand for its cars shrinking in key European and Chinese markets.
VW’s labour representatives brushed aside such concerns, pointing to record vehicle sales achieved in 2014. The main Wolfsburg plant ran almost 180 additional shifts last year to process excess orders and fill production gaps caused by technical disruptions.
Current salary contracts for 115,000 workers at six western German plants and the financial services division expire on Feb. 28. During a so-called peace period, IG Metall is legally banned from staging temporary walkouts through the end of March. (Reporting by Andreas Cremer and Jan Schwartz.; Editing by Christoph Steitz and Georgina Prodhan)