The mayor of Wairoa says the local economy will suffer due to the early closure of AFFCO's sheep and lamb plant.
The meat company has laid off more than 200 workers in the past two weeks, with most of those going on Thursday.
The sheep and lamb plant could be closed for up to five months for the season, instead of the usual five to eight weeks.
Mayor Les Probert says less money is being invested in the local economy because people from the town's main workforce have been laid off.
He says he hopes they will only be laid off for a short time.
Didn't have a choice - AFFCO
The union representing the workers says they were told that unless they were prepared to increase productivity for no extra pay, they would be out of work.
But AFFCO says staff have not been locked out. Operations director Rowan Ogg says the company had no choice but to action an early closure, because the plant is not meeting production requirements.
Mr Ogg says the Wairoa plant is not its most productive operation.
Its beef plant at Wairoa, which is operated by about 100 workers, remains open.