The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says it will spearhead discussions to find ways of keeping local manufacturers in New Zealand.
It follows Fisher & Paykel's announcement on Thursday that it will shift its laundry factory to Thailand to save an estimated $10 million a year, with the loss of 350 jobs in Auckland.
Sleepyhead, the country's biggest bed manufacturer, is also considering moving its operations to China next year. It employs about 500 people in New Zealand. About 250 jobs are expected to be lost.
The union's national secretary, Andrew Little, says an urgent review of manufacturing policies is needed to prevent a mass exodus overseas.
Mr Little says he plans to assemble representatives from the business community, other unions and the Government to discuss incentives for manufacturers to stay in New Zealand.
Sleepyhead managing director Graeme Turner says high interest rates and a huge array of costs have led it to look at China as a manufacturing site He says the only things that would keep Sleepyhead in New Zealand are a drop in interest rates and a change in government policy.
The Canterbury Manufacturers Association says it is the same situation for many manufacturers and warns that more will either leave or go under. Spokesman John Walley says manufacturers are being abandoned.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association says it makes sense for companies to move overseas because the business environment in New Zealand is not good.
Chief executive Alasdair Thompson says it is a mess for exporters trying to operate in the face of high taxes and other costs.
He says countries such as Thailand and China are offering manufacturers tax cuts and cheap land to help them to get started.
Manukau mayor Barry Curtis believes workers set to lose their jobs at Fisher & Paykel's east Tamaki plant will easily find work elsewhere.
He says "hundreds of jobs" are going spare in the district each month and it is unlikely that his constituents will be unemployed for long.
The Government says it acknowledges the pain many exporters are feeling but says it has an economic strategy to help.
Prime Minister Helen Clark says there is still a place for manufacturing in New Zealand, despite some companies shifting their production overseas She says what is happening in New Zealand is typical of many developed countries where manufacturers are moving their operations to low-cost countries.
Miss Clark acknowledges the high value of the dollar is causing problems for exporters, but points out that the Australian and British currencies are also at 25-year highs against the US dollar.
Minister of Economic Development Trevor Mallard says it is unfortunate some manufacturers feel they are being forced overseas, but the sector is changing. It is difficult to compete against other countries that supply cheap labour and land.
He says options apart from capital gains tax and mortgage levies need to be explored to try to help businesses that are struggling.
Mr Mallard says New Zealand must focus on high-end manufacturing that come from local research and design initiatives. Any wide-ranging change to monetary policy would need to have the support of all the main political parties.
The National Party says the Government should be doing what it can to help struggling businesses.
National finance spokesperson Bill English says the Government needs to stop charging record amounts of tax and change the business environment. He says the Government also needs to rein in its own spending, which would take pressure off interest rates and the dollar.