The United Steelworkers (USW) on Monday gave auto tyre maker Goodyear the required 72-hour notice to terminate the extension of the parties' labour contract. The contract had expired on 22 July, 2006, and both parties agreed to an extension that could be terminated with a 72-hour notice.

According to Goodyear's chief negotiator, Jim Allen, the two parties are continuing to negotiate in Cincinnati.

"The 72-hour notice simply creates a new deadline, which helps bring focus to the discussions as we work toward a new agreement," he said.

"While we are working hard toward successful resolution, in the event that does not occur Goodyear has contingency plans in place to continue operating our factories and serving our customers."

Prior to the expiration of the 72-hour period (at 1:00 pm US eastern time, on Thursday 5 October), two scenarios are possible, according to Goodyear:

- The parties could agree to another extension of the previous contract;

- The parties could reach a tentative agreement on a new contract.

Following the expiration of the 72-hour period, three scenarios are possible:

- The master plants could continue to operate and union employees could work without an agreement;

- The company could lock out the USW workers at the 12 master contract plants;

- The union could call a strike at the 12 master contract plants.

Goodyear said it would not comment further until the parties reach a resolution or the 72-hour period expires.