20 Mar 2015

Forestry industry reeling from HarvestPro collapse

1:18 pm on 20 March 2015

A forestry worker who was made unemployed without warning last week by the contractor HarvestPro says the company owes him thousands of dollars.

But he says he doesn't expect to see a penny of it.

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Photo: 123rf

HarvestPro's website said it employed more than 200 people in Northland and Gisborne.

The man, who asked not to be named, said he arrived for work at HarvestPro's Northland site on Thursday and was stunned to see debt collectors removing the company's machinery.

"We turned up for work on the Thursday morning - like we do every day - and we have four trucks of repossession men waiting there for us without no notice, no warning from management," he said.

"They told us the company's got bills to pay.

"I signed a contract where they're supposed to give me two week's notice, but we've just heard nothing."

He said he understood all of the company's Northland staff were now without jobs.

GE Finance confirmed it had repossesed equipment owned by Kiwi Forestry International, which was the parent company of HarvestPro.

HarvestPro has not yet commented publicly.

The man, who had worked for HarvestPro for about two years, said he had found new employment since last week, but many of his colleagues had not been so lucky.

"I feel sorry for everyone else who has families and stuff and need to pay the mortgage and pay the rent and put food in the cupboard and everything," he said.

Northland contractor Les King said he had already hired several former HarvestPro employees.

He said the apparent collapse of the company would have a massive financial impact on the industry.

"There are 200 people looking for work - some of them are owed lots of money and they won't get it," he said.

"There are sub-contractors to HarvestPro who are out of work, but later on down the track all the people down in the yards, receiving the logs - their log flow has diminuished by 50 per cent."

Another shocked worker, who is based in Gisborne, said he had no idea what had happened.

"There's no receivership, or liquidation or anything - there's people everywhere constantly checking on the companies register and it hasn't appeared yet," he said.

He said the company's staff based in Gisborne were in limbo.

"I haven't got a clue. I've been asking questions, but I just don't know."

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