BELFAST, Maine — About 70 workers at Little River Apparel learned this week they temporarily have lost their jobs after material for one of the chemical protective suits they make needed to be re-engineered.
The company employs about 240 people, most of whom are handicapped and disabled, to make chemical warfare protective uniforms for the military.
Richard Savage, director of manufacturing, told the workers Thursday about the layoffs.
“This is never fun,” he said Friday. “The good thing about it is it’s not lack of work. Everyone that’s been laid off, they’ll be back here. I’ve told everyone that they can come back, if they want to.”
He said that the best-case scenario will see workers returning to their jobs by the end of January.
Officials noticed there was a problem with the material in question, a type of tape used in making a garment coverall for combat vehicle crew members, he said.
“We’ve noticed some adhesive separation, and you don’t want to take any chances,” he said.
After reworking the tape material, Little River Apparel made test suits which now are undergoing testing by the material manufacturer and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Little River Apparel, which underwent a $2 million expansion in 2007, is managed by the Group Home Foundation and is located in the Belfast Business Park.