MILAN (Reuters) – Italian aerospace group Leonardo said on Tuesday it had reached an agreement with unions to furlough employees at its Aerostructures division to compensate for a fall in orders for commercial aircraft parts caused by the pandemic.

Last year the group filed a request to put more than 3,000 workers under a temporary lay-off scheme for 13 weeks, triggering protests from unions.

Following negotiations with unions, the group agreed to furlough more than 2,000 workers at four plants in southern Italy which make aircraft parts for Boeing Co and Airbus. The four plants employ more than 4,000 people in total.

The workers will be under a temporary lay-off scheme for 13 weeks starting Jan. 17.

To overhaul its loss-making division Leonardo will press on with investments to broaden the range of products it makes at the division.

“We are moving forward with the plan aimed at transforming and relaunching our Aerostructures business, on which we will have invested over 300 million euros between 2019 and 2023,” Leonardo General Manager Lucio Valerio Cioffi said in a statement.

Leonardo said in November it expected its Aerostructures business to absorb at least 350 million euros ($397 million)in cash in 2021 before bottoming out.

($1 = 0.8821 euro)

(Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Jonathan Oatis)