RAILWAY OFFICE OF ARBITRATION
& DISPUTE RESOLUTION
CASE NO. 3982
CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILWAY COMPANY
of thirty (30) demerits to Conductor M. Currier of
COMPANY’S STATEMENT OF ISSUE:
was required to provide an employee statement with respect to the work refusal
disagrees with the
FOR THE COMPANY:
(SGD.) P. PAYNE
FOR: DIRECTOR, LABOUR RELATIONS
There appeared on behalf of the Company:
P. Payne –
Manager, Labour Relations,
K. Morris –
Sr. Manager, Labour Relations,
M. Merson –
Assistant Superintendent Transportation,
A. Egey-Samu –
Risk Management Officer,
R. Baker –
D. Gagné – Sr.
Manager, Labour Relations,
There appeared on behalf of the
M. A. Church –
B. R. Boechler –
R. A. Hackl –
A. W. Franko –
M. Currier – Grievor
AWARD OF THE ARBITRATOR
There can be no
doubt but that on
What the record before the Arbitrator reveals is clearly the refusal of an employee to honour the “work now – grieve later” principle. Of substantial concern is the fact that during the course of the ensuing disciplinary investigation Mr. Currier expressed no regret at his actions and gave no indication that he understands that he conducted himself in a manner which could attract serious discipline. On that basis the Company assessed thirty demerits against his disciplinary record.
The Arbitrator can readily appreciate the Company’s concern. The need for an employee to comply with directions, save in the extreme case where they may be unlawful or clearly unsafe, was well expressed in Re United Steelworkers and Lake Ontario Steel Company Ltd. (1968), 19 L.A.C. 103 (P. C. Weiler). In that award the board of arbitration referred to the following comment made by Professor Schulman in Ford Motor Company 3 L.A. 779
But an industrial plant is not a debating society. Its object is production. When a controversy arises, production cannot wait for exhaustion of the grievance procedure. While that procedure is being pursued, production must go on until the controversy is settled. That authority is vested in supervision. It must be vested there because the responsibility for production is also vested there; and responsibility must be accompanied by authority. It is fairly vested there because the grievance procedure is capable of adequately recompensing employees for abuse of authority by supervision.
See also CROA 3228, 3622 and 3903.
The only real issue in the case at hand is the appropriate measure of discipline. Accepting that the grievor is a relatively junior employee of limited experience, some mitigating value can be given to the fact that he might simply not understand the need to respect authority in the operation of an industrial enterprise, notwithstanding that he may have a differing interpretation of the collective agreement. In my view the assessment of thirty demerits, which represents one half the road to discharge, is somewhat excessive, particularly given that Mr. Currier had never previously been assessed any demerits whatsoever, albeit he had received a written reprimand (CROA&DR 3981). I am satisfied that the assessment of twenty demerits would have been sufficient to bring home to him the importance of respecting the “work now – grieve” later rule.
is therefore allowed in part. The Arbitrator directs that the discipline
against the grievor be reduced to twenty demerits for the incident of