Former Tachikawa workers protesting against a logging firm they thought was holding up the redundancy process found themselves in the wrong place.
About 120 former Tachikawa Forest Products employees and their families gathered outside the Rotorua office of Hancock Forest Management yesterday to protest against the company for making a claim for reimbursement which they believed had held up the redundancy process.
However, company officials told them they were not jumping the queue and were protesting against the wrong organisation.
About 130 staff lost their jobs at the mill on October 24 after its Japanese owner announced it could not afford to continue operating.
Receivers KordaMentha were called in to liquidate the business, or find a buyer to take it over.
Earlier this week the receivers told the Rotorua Daily Post five companies had lodged claims that could stall the redundancy process, but were not at liberty to say who they were.
Hancock Forest Management general manager Bill McCallum said it was a total shock to see the protesters and hear their allegations against the company, which he said were false.
He said the company had no claim lodged with the receivers which would put it ahead of the former staff preferential entitlements, or would delay payment of them.
"I met with affected staff and assured them that this was simply inaccurate.
"On the contrary, any claim from Hancock would rank behind, firstly the employees' preferential claims, then the bank.
"If anyone has suggested otherwise, we are at a loss to understand why," Mr McCallum said.
"We appreciate that this is a distressing time for the affected families and we want to make it clear we will never stand in the way of them getting their payment."
Former Tachikawa employee William Brown said even though the protest was directed at the wrong company they had "made a bit of noise and rattled some cages".
"The others might just back off a bit," he said.
"All we want is confirmation of our redundancy. Our women folk are stressed out trying to look after the children and their families.
"We just want a fair go and the turnout shows how concerned we are."
First Union general secretary Robert Reid told workers at the end of the protest he had heard from the receivers and there was still a chance workers could be paid out before Christmas.
First Union president Syd Keepa said the union was trying to find out which companies were involved and would look to carry on their protests.
"They were up front about it with us, he [Bill McCallum] came down saying it was not Hancock challenging the receivers.
"We now understand it wasn't them," Mr Keepa said.