UNION bosses say they have agreed a package with engineering giant Rolls-Royce to financially protect the company's 20,000 UK workforce – including hundreds of jobs in East Lancashire – during the coronavirus emergency.

Unite said the agreement includes a 10 percent pay delay from April, which will see the difference paid back in 12 months time for all staff, while those who are not required to work will be furloughed on full pay under the government’s job retention scheme for the next three weeks.

Talks are said to be on-ongoing as to what happens after the month ends.

Unite said health and safety was at the heart of the package, with such features as a one-way system being introduced to help employs continue to work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The union said the "constructive talks" would benefit workers at the Rolls-Royce plants in Barnoldswick, Derby, Bristol and Glasgow.

Unite regional officer Tony Tinley, said: "Throughout the constructive talks with management, Unite has adopted a three-pronged approach - the vital importance of health and safety, protecting the jobs and incomes of our members in the short-term and securing the long-term employment future of our members and the prosperity of the company.

"Airplanes are still flying, bringing in medicines and other supplies, so there is a current demand for Rolls-Royce's superb products.

"What we have achieved at Rolls-Royce is a template that other companies could follow in terms of workers' incomes and safety protections"

The news has been welcomed by Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson, who said it would provide a boost for all those East Lancashire businesses in the Rolls-Royce supply chains.

Mr Stephenson said: "I am pleased that the unions have worked constructively on this at this unprecedented time. It's a time where we all need to pull together – unions, business and government – in order to protect people's jobs."

Warren East, Rolls-Royce CEO, said: “We find ourselves in unprecedented times, both as a company and as a key player in vital power markets across the world. Our priority is to do everything we can to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of our people and to play our part in helping our customers, partners and communities. We are taking significant measures to strengthen the operational and financial resilience of our business."