GM talks shift into overdrive, strike enters 3rd day

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Detroit, Sept 26: Negotiations between United Auto Workers and General Motors Corp shifted into overdrive on Wednesday, with a marathon bargaining session stoking expectations the two sides are nearing a deal to end a national strike entering its third day.

Officials from the union and the top US automaker met into Wednesday morning, extending talks that began on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported negotiators were working on final details of a four-year deal on wages and benefits that would create a trust fund to handle retiree healthcare and give GM free reign to hire new workers at lower wage rates, citing unnamed people familiar with the talks.

Representatives for GM and the union could not be immediately reached for comment on the report.

Talks between the two sides began 10 weeks ago. Over the weekend, GM and the UAW had appeared to be nearing a deal, before talks broke down over UAW insistence that GM commit to keep U.S. factories working with future vehicles now in development.

More than 73,000 UAW-represented workers walked out on Monday in the first national strike against GM since 1970.

Most analysts expected a short strike, arguing that neither side can expect to profit from a prolonged walkout that would cost GM badly needed sales and force working families to get by on strike pay of just $200 per week.

By Tuesday, the impact from the UAW-ordered shutdown of more than 80 GM facilities in the United States hit the automaker's plants in Canada and Mexico, which are closely aligned to the U.S. operations and depend on them for some auto parts.

Two GM plants in Ontario, Canada, shut down due to the strike, with the company reviewing the status of another plant, a GM spokesman for Canada said.

GM employs 17,000 workers in Canada who could face layoffs because of the walkout. Canadian Auto Workers union President Buzz Hargrove said on Monday up to 100,000 Canadian workers could be out of a job if the U.S. strike drags on.

GM's production at three Mexican plants could be hit because of a pledge by the Teamsters union to stop hauling the company's vehicles across the border into the U.S. market.

''It does not take long for a significant work stoppage to ripple across the entire globe,'' said Scott Watkins, an Anderson Economic Group consultant. ''The longer this goes on, the wider the impact across the country and the globe.'' UNI

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