German workers' wages should increase so they can share in the country's recovery, the country's Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview published Sunday.
"German businesses are making significant profits," she said. "The workers should now get their share and they should feel this 'plus'," she told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
"And this 'plus should not be immediately eaten up by inflation," she added.
It was for the social partners to work out the increase, she added, referring to the employers and the unions.
Pay deals in Germany are reached between unions and employers without government intervention and the IG Metall metalworker's union agreement traditionally serves as a benchmark in other sectors.
Von der Leyen's comments came just days after IG Metall called for a 6.5 percent rise in salaries.
For years, unions in Germany accepted low pay rises to keep the country competitive amid the crisis but are pressing for a share in the dividends that this has brought.
German exports topped 1.0 trillion euros for the first time in 2011, but fell at year-end as the eurozone debt crisis hit demand for goods made in Europe's biggest economy, according to official figures released on Wednesday.
Imports also rose to a record 902 billion euros.
The full-year data place Germany as the world's number two exporter behind China which posted exports worth a total 1.432 billion euros and a trade surplus of 117 billion euros in 2011.
The German pay negotiations will be closely followed in the rest of Europe, which is struggling to overcome a debt crisis that has shaken the eurozone in particular to its core.