Wellington Hospital has cut 40 jobs after it contracted out laundry services to a Palmerston North-based company.
Capital & Coast District Health Board on Saturday became the seventh DHB to sign on with Allied Laundry of Palmerston North, following Wairarapa, Hawke's Bay and Taranaki.
Mother-of-three Devi Morar had worked at the hospital's laundry facility for 21 years. She was planning to take a few months off before applying for new ones after her last her last day, which was on Saturday.
"This is like a home to us. Out of the whole year we spend more time here than at home I think.
"It is a really sad time because a lot of the staff have been here 20, 30, 40 years. There was a lot of tears when we said goodbye."
A spokesperson for Capital & Coast DHB said most of the laundry equipment was well past its expected lifespan and maintenance and repairs would have been complex and costly.
But Ms Morar said she thought the hospital could have saved the laundry facility if it wanted to.
"All they have to do is just replace a couple of old [machines], that's all it was, and the place would be up running all right."
First Union Wellington organiser Richie Morris said the fact people had been there so many decades, in one case 40 years, showed how "incredibly loyal" the staff were.
Mr Morris said the mood had been pretty sombre at a farewell lunch the hospital put on for staff last week.
"It was quite an emotional speech from one of the workers who said his workmates were like his second family. So yeah, it's quite a wrench for these guys actually," he said.
Of the 40 staff who lost their jobs, nearly half were redeployed while the rest had taken redundancy or were undecided, a district health board spokesperson said.
Two jobs at Hutt Valley DHB were also cut at the end of last year when it too contracted out its laundry services to Allied Laundry.