The United Auto Workers union supports an alliance between Chrysler and another automaker provided as as many jobs as possible are preserved, a senior UAW official said at the weekend.

UAW vice president and Chrysler relations chief General Holiefield told Reuters workers were prepared to make further sacrifices in a bid to save the struggling US automakers from bankruptcy.

“They’re all willing to do the right thing. Whatever it takes to secure their future, certainly they’re ready to be cooperative to get the job done,” Holiefield said after a Detroit church service for the auto industry.

Holiefield added that the UAW’s president was open to an alliance for Chrysler provided that such a move protected jobs.

“What president [Ron] Gettelfinger is looking for, if anything at all, is an alliance with someone that is compatible with Chrysler to preserve the jobs,” he said.

General Motors and Chrysler had held merger talks but these ended in October after a deepening cash crisis prompted GM to seek federal loan help.

But several Republican senators said last week they favoured a GM merger with Chrysler, and both companies said they remained open to the proposal, Reuters noted, possibly reopening the prospect of a merger that would cut tens of thousands of jobs and up to US$10bn in annual operating costs from the combined companies.

Reuters suggested Holiefield’s remarks appeared to mark a softening of UAW opposition to a merger for Chrysler, coming after Gettelfinger told the house of representatives finance committee hearing last week that the job losses in the event of a GM acquisition of Chrysler would be unbelievable.

Holiefield also said he believed Congress was moving toward extending emergency funding to Chrysler, GM and Ford, according to the news agency.