Main Saab blue collar union, IF Metall, has taken the extraordinary step of writing directly to US president Barack Obama in a bid to put pressure on former owner, General Motors, to make its licences available.

The licence issue is continuing to take centre stage as GM is reluctant to allow them to be transfered to a potential competitor - particularly given its relationship with Chinese automaker, SAIC.

However, with unemployment levels in Saab's Swedish home town of Trollhattan soaring to 40%, IF Metall has taken the decision to write to the president as the American taxpayer still owns part of General Motors.

"We asked Mr Obama to talk to GM to let the licences free [for] a new buyer of Saab," IF Metall Trollhattan plant chairman Hakan Scott told just-auto from Sweden. "We have not had any answer yet.

"It is a chance we take and hopefully we will get some answer back and we hope that answer will be positive. The government has ownership in GM and we hope we will have some kind of influence."

IF Metall legal adviser Darko Davidovic told just-auto the Trollhattan division of the union "didn't have any option" but to write to the US president following a meeting of the labour body.

"They decided 'let's give it a shot' and at least somebody will see it and try maybe to understand the situation," Davidovic told just-auto. "They sent it yesterday [14 May] so I don't think Obama is just waiting for a quick answer."

Saab's receivers in Gothenburg have yet to make any decision as to which of a reported three buyers will succeed in taking over the bankrupt automaker but IF Metall said state guarantee money to Saab's near-4,000 employees is fast running out.

"People are getting frightened because they have to do something before June," said Davidovic.