General Motors Corp. will begin meetings with its lenders and unions after New Year's Day to try to win concessions.

Under the federal rescue package approved last week, GM has until March 31 to restructure its operations to become self-sustaining.

The meetings with debt holders and the United Auto Workers will wait until at least Jan. 5, GM spokesman Tony Cervone said this week. Informal discussions already are under way now without chief executive officer Rick Wagoner and senior management, Cervone said.

The biggest U.S. automaker is required by the $9.4 billion federal aid package to fashion a survival plan.

"GM's effort is going to be like herding cats," said Kip Penniman, an analyst at KDP Investment Advisors Inc., of Montpelier, Vt.

Jan. 5 is GM's first workday after the Jan. 1 New Year's Day holiday.

"There won't be anything that's finalized or any kind of major breakthrough" until at least Jan. 5, Cervone said in an interview.

Chrysler L.L.C., which is to get $4 billion in aid, has the same deadline to offer a survival plan.

Chrysler "is working tirelessly around the clock, and the company has no higher priority than to satisfy the loan conditions laid out by the government," a spokeswoman, Lori McTavish, wrote in an e-mail.

Wagoner has said GM's biggest challenges will be reaching accords with debt holders on an equity swap, a condition of the aid plan to pare the automakers' debt by two-thirds, and with the UAW, which ratified new national contracts in 2007. GM has $62 billion in debt, including future obligations to a union health-care fund.