DETROIT, Sept 26 - The United Auto Workers union on Wednesday agreed a contract with Gene

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DETROIT, Sept 26 (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers union on Wednesday agreed a contract with General Motors Corp ending a national strike by 73,000 workers, with a deal that includes a groundbreaking health-care trust fund.

Union President Ron Gettelfinger, speaking at a news conference at the union's Detroit headquarters and surrounded by cheering UAW officials, said production at GM facilities would resume on Wednesday and ratification of the agreement by GM workers would begin this week.

''We feel very confident it will be ratified,'' Gettelfinger said of the tentative four-year agreement.

GM shares jumped 7.3 percent to 26.2 euros in Frankfurt trading after the deal was announced.

The agreement will have to be approved by a majority of the GM workers who walked out on Monday in the first national strike against the company since 1970.

Gettelfinger led the UAW out on strike saying the top U.S.

automaker had not met the union's demands for guarantees on job security.

In a statement, GM said that the deal would be subject to approval by the courts, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission would conduct a review of its accounting treatment of the new health-care trust fund.

''There's no question this was one of the most complex and difficult bargaining sessions in the history of the GM/UAW relationship,'' said the struggling automaker's Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner in the statement.

GM said the national agreement ''paves the way for GM to significantly improve its manufacturing competitiveness'' and maintain a strong production presence in the United States.

A GM spokeswoman said the automaker would not provide details of the agreement until it was presented to UAW workers for ratification.

Gettelfinger said he would not disclose details of the agreement at this time. But he did say it includes a landmark health-care deal, under which responsibility for retiree health care would shift to a new UAW-aligned trust fund known as a voluntary employee beneficiary association, or VEBA.

Wall Street analysts have said establishing a VEBA could cut GM's annual costs by $3 billion in exchange for a one-off payment expected to top $30 billion.

Gettelfinger seemed confident striking GM workers would be happy with the deal. ''I think overall they will be very pleased with the outcome of this negotiation and the job security that's associated with it,'' he said.

He said the union expected the health-care trust GM would establish would provide steady funding for another 80 years.

''It will be solid for 80 years,'' he said.

The UAW president added said he expected GM's UAW-represented work force to remain at the same level, or increase, depending on production levels.

''I think that number will be pretty much the same, if not higher,'' he said.

Gettelfinger said a decision on the next bargaining target for a new contract -- either Ford Motor Co or Chrysler LLC -- could be made on Thursday this week.

If the deal with GM is ratified, that could raise the pressure on the other two U.S. automakers to come to a deal with the UAW quickly on similar terms.

Talks between GM and the UAW dragged on for 10 weeks and passed the Sept 14 deadline when the old contract expired. The walkout on Monday came as a surprise as the two sides had appeared on the verge of a deal at the weekend.

Most analysts expected the strike to be short as neither side would profit from a prolonged walkout. GM would lose badly-needed sales and workers would be forced to survive on strike pay of just $200 a week.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Krolicki and David Bailey) REUTERS SI DS1537

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