Ford has asked the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union to match recent concession-filled labour deals with General Motors and Chrysler so the company can remain competitive, the union has said.

CAW negotiator Mike Vince told the Ottawa Sun the union met with Ford management this week as they outlined their case for the automaker to have a new contract with workers.

Vince said the company argued it needed to compete with GM and Chrysler in Canada as well as with its own US operations.

CAW economist Jim Stanford told the paper Ford was looking for the same general concessions CAW workers gave to the other companies.

Although the CAW’s current contract with Ford doesn’t expire until 2011, the automaker said the new labour agreements with the other American automakers had put it at a disadvantage.

The CAW said it would now decide whether to agree to reopen contract negotiations.

Ironically, Ford finds itself in this uncompetitive situation because it was the only one of the Detroit Three not to seek bankruptcy and restructuring aid from US and Canadian governments. But those deals required Chrysler and GM to renegotiate their contacts with both the UAW and CAW unions, consequently putting Ford at a disadvantage on both sides of the border.