GM says early UAW talks have begun, to continue

DETROIT Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:20pm EST

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DETROIT Jan 11 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp (GM.N) began preliminary talks with the United Auto Workers union last week in a bid to win new concessions required under its U.S. government bailout, a senior executive said on Sunday.

GM's president for North America, Troy Clarke, said discussions would continue with the union this week and had focused first on how union leaders saw talks proceeding.

"We're talking about how they see those negotiations talking place," said Clarke, who was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show.

The current terms of GM's $13.4 billion loan package from the U.S. government require it to seek deep givebacks from the UAW that would make its labor costs competitive with the nonunion factories run by the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.T)

The UAW has objected to those targets as unfair and Democratic leaders in the incoming Congress have urged that they be softened.

But Clarke said GM was preparing to meet the specific targets outlined under the bailout cleared by the outgoing Bush administration.

"It's our intention to meet the specific targets," he said.

(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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