Syringes and heroin-taking kit have been found on the site of the nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard in what has been branded an “alarming” discovery.
The shipbuilders said the “highly serious matter” uncovered last week involved a small number of people at the site in Port Glasgow and assurances have been made to the authorities that an investigation will take place.
It is understood the company is dealing with the incident and already operates random drug-testing of employees, of which there are 470 at the site.
Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) Holdings Ltd was nationalised by the Scottish Government in August 2019 after going into administration.
It had been contracted to build two ferries for CalMac which have faced successive delays, with the MV Glen Sannoz and Hull 802 not expected until Spring 2023 – more than four years late and more than double the agreed price of £97m.
The government-owned shipbuilder lost out on the opportunity to make two new vessels for Islay after yards in Romania, Poland and Turkey were invited to tender for the multi-million-pound contract instead.
Ferguson Marine boss Tim Hair defended being paid £2565 per day as “value for money”, having earned almost £1.3m for 454 days’ work since being appointed by the Scottish Government.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said workers at the site would be out of a job if not for the government stepping in.
Work at the Ferguson Marine plant involves the use of large machinery and the movement of extremely heavy parts.
The company said it had a zero-tolerance drugs policy supported by trade unions.
A GMB Scotland spokesperson said: “Unfortunately the world of work is not exempt from the challenges facing society in general, and we will work with the employer to ensure the health, wellbeing, and safety of staff is supported.”
Scotland has had record-high levels of drug deaths year after year and the Lord Advocate announced a move towards decriminalisation of possession of Class A substances last week.
The Scottish Government said the “alarming” allegations of drug use at the shipyard could “compromise workers’ safety”.
It is understood Police Scotland is not involved at this time.
A spokesperson for Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow) said: “This is a highly serious matter involving a small number of individuals. Ferguson Marine has a zero-tolerance drugs policy, which is fully supported by the trade unions.
“As is common practice for many industrial workplaces, anyone identified as under the influence at work is suspended immediately and faces disciplinary procedures, including dismissal.
“We operate a routine programme of random and ‘with cause’ testing, especially for those with safety-critical roles, and our ‘no lone worker’ approach ensures every task completed, or piece of machinery operated, involves more than one person. Our approach applies to employees and subcontractors.
“As a responsible employer of 470 hardworking staff, we take the health and safety of everyone seriously and make no apology for the robust measures in place to keep everyone safe from potential harm.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Allegations of drug use in the workplace must be taken seriously by all employers. Given the nature of the work undertaken by Ferguson Marine, these allegations are clearly alarming and could potentially compromise workers’ safety.
“The Scottish Government has been given an assurance by the yard that appropriate procedures are in place to investigate and handle personnel matters such as this.”
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