A recognition agreement between XPO Logistics and the Unite union has been hailed as “a landmark deal” after becoming the first to be signed in one of the newly designated freeport zones.

The union said the agreement covers pay and conditions for warehouse workers on the Nestle contract at the East Midlands Gateway.

Freeports are a series of government designated zones that provide tax breaks to companies and eight new ones were announced by the Chancellor in the Budget in March.

Unite said the deal struck with XPO was significant because it had concerns that as well as providing tax breaks, freeports could be used to reduce workers’ rights and weaken health and safety laws.

Paresh Patel, Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands, said: “Unite is determined to use this agreement as a template to ensure that all workers in freeport zones are covered and protected by a recognition agreement so that the genuine concerns that freeports could be used to undermine workers’ rights never comes to pass.”

Unite regional officer Larry McGlinchey added that he hoped the agreement meant a strong working relationship would be established that benefitted the workers and the company.

An XPO Logistics spokesperson said: “The agreement we have on this site is a standard operating agreement.”