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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
Ford aims to copy GM's union deal
Ford Escape
All three big US car producers hope to reduce their healthcare costs
Ford has confirmed that it expects to follow General Motors' (GM) lead and sign a similar deal with unions to reduce its retiree healthcare costs.

GM said on Monday that it had secured an initial deal with the United Auto Workers, America's main carworkers' labour organisation.

"We expect comparable changes," Ford's chief operating officer Jim Padilla said from the Tokyo Motor Show.

Chrysler has already said that it hopes to follow GM's move.

Tough trading

GM is aiming to cut its retiree healthcare costs by about $15bn (9bn).

Mr Padilla also admitted to reporters that the car market remained "very difficult" in the US because of high petrol prices and reduced consumer spending.

However, he said he expected conditions to improve towards the end of the year and into 2006.

The big three US carmakers - GM, Ford and Chrysler - have long sought to reduce their expensive healthcare obligations in the face of tough trading conditions.

As each has seen sales hit by increased competition from Japanese rivals and reduced consumer spending, their generous healthcare costs have been seen as an extra financial burden.

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