Thirty RCR Energy workers in the company's Dannevirke workshop have been made redundant, a week after getting an email from their boss telling them the business was in safe hands.
According to an RCR employee who did not want to be named, they were told in an email from the company's head office in Auckland on February 27 that the company was in a secure position.
"I'm delighted to update you that the final update is that all of the business has been sold as a going concern. This is great news for our people and I'm very happy to have this result to share," the email read.
Then on Tuesday, only six days after the original email, workers were told that a buyer couldn't be found for the Dannevirke site and the company would be selling off the building and making all workers redundant.
Sue Berry, chairwoman of the Dannevirke Chamber of Commerce, said she was "gobsmacked" by the news.
"I'm just devastated," Berry said.
"I thought when they laid off 18 workers late last year that everything would be fine. This is a bolt from the blue."
The New Zealand divisions of RCR have been in the dark about their futures since Australian parent company RCR Tomlinson went into voluntary administration late last year.
McGrathNicol who have been appointed administrators for RCR in New Zealand said in a statement that customers haven't been willing to place large orders with the company because of its position.
"This meant that RCR Energy's pipeline of manufacturing work has reduced over time, with only one active project remaining.
"For bidders, this meant significant uncertainty about when work levels might increase and when the Dannevirke plant would therefore be utilised again.
"As a consequence, although potential purchasers considered taking on the Dannevirke manufacturing operations ... none of the bidders could justify purchasing the plant."
One of the administrators in charge Conor McElhinney said the email that went out was a general email to everyone in the company but it did include a warning.
"The email did state that the majority of people in the company would have a job but it also read that there had to be some rationalisation around what the buyers would want."
E tū union organiser Laurel Reid says the way the RCR had handled the eventual closure in Dannevirke was extremely poor.
"It is pretty appalling really to just string these people along like that," Reid said.
"Our members are all very upset and angry and I won't be surprised if some get jobs before then and just walk out because most of them have bills to pay and families to provide for."
The email had lulled these workers into a false sense of security, she said.
"Someone up the top has really stuffed up and given these guys false hope," Reid said.
"Most of these guys would have thought their jobs were safe and looked to the future only to have it all pulled from under them."
Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis said the RCR staff were very skilled and with engineering a big employer in Tararua, work would likely be found for them, as it was for those laid off in December last year.
But Reid said many of the workers were Dannevirke locals and would have to leave the town for work.
"Some of these guys are apprentices and almost done, now they don't know what will happen to them," Reid said.
"If they want good paying jobs like they had they are going to have to leave cause they won't find it in Dannevirke."
The doors of the Dannevirke workshop are due to close April 2, with one major project yet to be completed by its employees.