Masonry workers at a Port Kembla factory were handed redundancy notices and told not to turn up for work yesterday, some just hours before they were due to start their shift.
Fourteen workers at brick and paver manufacturer Austral Masonry were told they had lost their jobs at the plant, with news it was ceasing production at the Port Kembla site immediately.
A wife of one of the workers, who did not wish to be identified, said the news was "devastating" for her and her husband, who were surviving off a single income with a young family.
"A lot of the guys who lost their jobs are in the same situation, they all have young families," the woman said.
She said the news had come as a complete shock to the workers, who were called in to a meeting with no idea of what was about to unfold.
"My husband was due to be there tonight but they called him in and just told them the whole factory was closing," she said.
Group human resources manager for Austral Masonry's parent company Brickworks, Wally Kluktewicz, said Illawarra workers would be offered the chance to apply for jobs at a site the company has recently bought in western Sydney.
"Those 14 people will be made redundant as of now, but we are offering opportunities for them to come to our plant in Prospect," he said.
"We are also establishing an out-placement and support meetings on Monday with support of the [Australian Workers Union] to help those people find employment."
Mr Kluktewicz could not confirm why the Port Kembla plant had been closed, but said it was related to "economic reasons".
He said Austral bought a Boral Masonry plant in Prospect about two weeks ago.