Congress cannot fix the US Big Three automakers’ woes in a week and the pain of the economic downturn needs to be shared evenly, United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger on Thursday told a Senate Banking Committee hearing submissions for $34bn in federal loans.

He called for “fairness in the sacrifices” so the automakers could continue in business.

“This process can begin immediately under the supervision of the next administration. By doing so, Congress can make sure that the emergency assistance is indeed a bridge to a brighter future.”

He said a so-called pre-packed bankruptcy “simply was not a viable option” for restructuring the Big Three.

“Research has indicated the public will not buy vehicles from a company in bankruptcy.”

He said experts had told the union bankruptcy was not viable for the automakers because of the size and complexity of the issues involved including relationships with dealers and suppliers.

“The UAW believes the recent actions by the federal government to provide an enormous bail-out to Citigroup reinforces the case for providing an emergency bridge loan to the Detrot-based auto companies.”

As of 17:30GMT, the committee had heard initial presentations from the three automaker CEOs, Gettelfinger and dealer and supplier executives.