Prime Port in Timaru has confirmed a net 29 jobs will go by the end of September following a meeting with staff on Tuesday.
The move is in response to a decision by shipping companies Maersk and Hamburg Sud to pull out of the Timaru container trade this month.
Chief executive Jeremy Boys says while 42 positions will go, 13 new jobs are being created, meaning a net loss of 29.
The Rail and Maritime Transport Union says the Government's lack of a national port strategy allows foreign shipping companies too much freedom.
South Island co-ordinator John Kerr says a national port strategy would create a level playing field for ports and shipping companies.
Timaru District Mayor Janie Annear says the job losses are a kick in the guts for one of the town's favourite industries.