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People on Islay are in shock today as it is believed five crew members were sacked from a CalMac vessel this morning, leaving islanders without a ferry.
A spokesman for CalMac refused to comment on the matter – but said the boat was cancelled due to HR issues.
Unconfirmed reports from three sources say that five men were found to be under the influence of alcohol at work when tested as part of a routine monitoring of all staff.
Crew members are contracted not to be under the influence of alcohol while on shift and aboard the ship.
Within a crew member’s terms and conditions, it specifically mentions alcohol and drugs. A note in the May 25, 2015, board minutes refers to the policy. It states: ‘The main updates focused on bringing the permitted alcohol level into alignment with the current Scottish drink-drive limit.
One crew member told The Oban Times the incident was unusual because people are so scared of being caught and instantly dismissed if they are found to be under the influence on shift.
He explained: ‘It is rare for crew members to take a drink on board because the consequences are so severe. Almost everyone I know has a breathaliser to make sure they are never over the limit.
‘People do get off the ship when we are in port – and people have the opportunity to drink then.
‘Back in the old days we used to have great fun aboard the ship but quite sensibly the management brought in alcohol and drug testing in 2012 and re-educated staff on the dangers of being drunk at work.
‘There are no warnings of dismissal, quite rightly. We wouldn’t allow someone to be in charge of a car while under the influence of drink or drugs. Why would we allow anyone to be aboard ship and under the influence?
‘Five people were tested this morning aboard ship and we didn’t see them again.’
The Oban Times asked CalMac to confirm the five dismissals and the drug and alcohol testing testing regime aboard the ship.
A CalMac spokesman replied saying: ‘We can confirm MV Isle of Arran has been taken out of service due to an HR matter. However, we have no comment to make.’
Residents on the Isle of Islay had no ferry while the HR matter was sorted out. A sailing was expected to the island later in the day.