Though the original deadline of 11:59pm Detroit time Friday night is now long past, General Motors and the United Auto Workers union (UAW) continued talking over the weekend and will resume negotiations today, local newspaper and wire service reports said.

GM spokesman Dan Flores told the Detroit Free Press the two parties jointly agreed to break negotiations shortly before 3am Monday (7am GMT), after bargaining overnight for nearly 16 hours straight, and expect to resume talks later today.

Flores reportedly said the parties would not speculate on the status of the talks.

The newspaper added that, late on Sunday night, local union branch leaders were told by UAW officials they planned to push through the night with the goal of reaching a tentative agreement or setting a strike deadline.

The union on Thursday nominated GM as the 'lead' company for the negotiations, which will result in a new contract, replacing the four-year-old deal which expired on Friday.

Ford and Chrysler have agreed an extension with the UAW that can be ended by either party with three days' notice while GM is on an hour-by-hour extension, according to the Associated Press. The news agency noted on Sunday that the only two GM plants scheduled to work that day operated as normal.

AP said there had been tension early in the weekend. UAW Local [branch] 735 president Chuck Rogers reportedly told union members that the union came within minutes of striking on Friday night when president Ron Gettelfinger walked out of a bargaining room after getting into a dispute with GM negotiators. But GM chief financial officer Fritz Henderson intervened and brought Gettelfinger back to the bargaining table, and progress has since been made, Rogers was quoted as saying by the news agency.

Once the union finally reaches agreement with GM, it is expected to try to implement similar deals at Ford and Chrysler.

The Associated Press, citing an anonymous local union branch official, said the main outstanding issues were retiree health care expenses and promises from the company that it would build new vehicles at UAW-represented factories.

GM wants the union to take over responsibility for retiree health care costs using a company-funded trust and the UAW was asking for job guarantees in exchange for taking on the costs, the news agency added.

According to the report, the local official said he was told on Sunday that both sides had moved closer on funding the health care trust, but they were still apart on job security guarantees for factories.

People close to the talks told the Detroit Free Press that UAW president Ron Gettelfinger has agreed to the concept in principle.

It was unclear where negotiations on that or other issues stood after talks paused early this morning, the Detroit paper said.

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