General Motors wants workers to agree to cuts in its $US5.6 billion annual US health-care costs in the next few days, or GM could cut them unilaterally, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.


According to Reuters, United Auto Workers vice president Richard Shoemaker, the union’s top negotiator at GM, said in an interview with the newspaper that the union and GM are continuing talks over health-care costs and related issues. Shoemaker reportedly declined to discuss details of the talks or any deadlines, but said both sides acknowledged that talks must be concluded soon.


GM officials wouldn’t discuss details of the company’s proposals, the paper said.


Reuters noted that union officials have said GM management is seeking cuts of $1 billion a year and changes in retiree plans that could slash $20 billion from GM’s retiree health-care obligations. GM could argue it isn’t obliged by the contract to provide the same benefits to retirees as to active workers, the paper reportedly said.


GM is expected by analysts to announce a third-quarter loss on Monday. The people familiar with the company’s plans said the announcement could be accompanied by disclosure of details for cost-cutting plans, the WSJ reported, according to Reuters.