By Matt Scuffham
TORONTO (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles <FCAU.N> has yet to reach a deal with unionized workers in Canada, four hours ahead of a midnight strike deadline, the union said on Monday, adding that workers were prepared to walk off the job.
Any strike by more than 9,000 of the company's Canadian workers would disrupt production of minivans built in Windsor, Ontario, including the new Chrysler Pacifica, as well as sedans assembled in Brampton, Ontario.
"No agreement has been reached," Denise Hammond, director of communications for the Unifor union, told reporters.
While Fiat Chrysler has enough inventory to weather a brief strike without it hitting sales, an extended walkout would be problematic. The company has about a 70 days supply of Pacifica minivans on hand, according to Automotive News.
Unifor represents Canadian manufacturing workers at Fiat Chrysler, Ford Motor Co <F.N> and General Motors Co <GM.N>. It uses a pattern bargaining strategy to negotiate with the three automakers, selecting one company to hold talks with and then holding the other two to the broad terms of that deal.
It reached a pattern deal with GM last month, including new investment that is expected to save thousands of jobs at the company's Oshawa, Ontario plant.
Hammond said that although some progress had been made since the last union update at 4 p.m. EDT/2000 GMT, the two parties faced a "major hurdle" in reaching an agreement that matches the GM deal. Outstanding issues include future investment and wages.
Fiat Chrysler declined to comment on the talks.
Unifor has scheduled another briefing at 10 p.m. EDT.
If a deal is not reached, workers will strike a minute after midnight, Hammond said, adding that local strike negotiators have made preparations to set up picket lines.
Unifor had said ahead of contract talks that its top priority would be securing new investment in Canada, including an overhaul of the paint shop in Fiat Chrysler's Brampton plant northwest of Toronto.
The Brampton plant builds large sedans, including the Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger, employing about 3,300 unionized workers.
With some 6,000 unionized workers, the Windsor van plant produces all of Fiat Chrysler's minivans for the North American market, including the new Chrysler Pacifica, the Chrysler Town and Country and the Dodge Caravan.
The contract also covers about 450 workers that make parts in Toronto's west end.
(With additional reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Alan Crosby and Cynthia Osterman)