Billionaire Graeme Hart's Rank Group offshoot Carter Holt Harvey is laying off 70 workers in Rotorua and Tokoroa, with a union saying it is "bleak news" just before Christmas.
Union members met yesterday to discuss the company proposal to cut 18 jobs at its Tokoroa plywood plant and the closure of its Rotorua Profiles plant with the loss of more than 50 jobs, including contractors.
Hart is estimated to be worth about $6 billion, making him New Zealand's richest man, though he ceased being a director of CHH earlier this year.
CHH blamed a fall in demand from export markets in Australia and a lack of new home building in New Zealand as the reason for the redundancies, the workers' union said.
However, in the year to September 2012, the value of new dwelling consents grew by 26 per cent to $4.6 billion and the number of new dwellings consented was up 19 per cent to 16,000 dwellings.
EPMU timber industry organiser Ron Angel said the announcement was bleak news, especially just before Christmas.