DATE : 04/7/95
PARTIES : CN CCROU
This grievance is in regard to a 45-day suspension against Mr. J.P. Larocque of Winnipeg, Manitoba in respect of an alleged violation of General Operating Instructions Item 5.2(a) and (c), Form 696 on April 15, 1993.
The facts are not in substantial dispute. It appears that on April 15, 1993 the grievorís train crew received two separate hot box indications in the course of their trip on the Sprague Subdivision. The first indication appears to have been communicated to the crew at mile 97. At that point, they stopped their train and inspected the 36th car which was the indicated location of the problem. There appeared to be no irregularity at that point and the trip resumed. A second hot box detector was crossed without any exceptions being noted. Finally, at mile 48, the crew was again advised that their train had an irregularity and that a hot box indication was again triggered in respect of the 36th car.
It is not disputed that at that point, in accordance with the General Operating Instructions, the crew was to stop their train and immediatly inspect the car in question. It also appears to be common ground that, if a problem was detected, they should then set off the balance of their train and proceed with the car at substantially reduced speed to the nearest siding where the bad order car could be set off.
In fact, Conductor Larocque did not stop his train. Rather, he made the judgement that, as the crew was some three to four miles from the nearest siding, they should continue to that point. As the train proceeded, the engineer noticed smoke and dust from the car in question and stopped the train. However, a derailment of the car had already occured causing substantial damage to the track, the total loss being estimated at some $250,000.
There is no issue as to the fact that the grievor is deserving of discipline.The only real issue is the appropriate form and severity of that discipline. The Union places emphasis on the grievorís long service, having regard to his seniority date of 1979 and the fact that his record was clear at the time. It further stresses that he has not had a prior incident of this kind during the course of his service. The Company. on the other hand, stresses the serious nature of the error committed by Mr. Larocque, and the cardinal rule violation which occured.
I am satisfied, on the whole,that the Company is correct in its view that this was a serious error on the part of the Conductor. This was not an act which can be qualified as inadvertence or necessarily an error of judgement. Given that there had been a prior warning in respect of the very same car, it would, in my view, be fair to characterize what transpired as bordering on recklessness. That said, it does appear to the arbitrator that the assessement of a 45-day suspension for a first offence of this kind is, in the circumstances, extremely heavy. While I agree with the Company that a suspension is appropriate to bring the severity of this action home to the employee in question, and as a deterrent to other employees, I am satisfied that a 30-day suspension would be appropriate in these circumstances.
For all of the foregoing reasons, the grievance is allowed, in part . The arbitrator directs that the grievorís record be amended to show a 30-day suspension and that he be compensated for the balance of any wages and benefits lost.
DATED at Toronto this 4th day of July, 1995.
Michel G. Picher - Arbitrator