IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION
Canadian Pacific Limited
THE CANADIAN COUNCIL OF RAILWAY SHOPCRAFT EMPLOYEES AND ALLIED WORKERS
AND IN THE MATTER OF GRIEVANCE OF J. B. SYLVESTER
SOLE ARBITRATOR: J. F. W. Weatherill
There appeared on behalf of the Union:
P. E. Perreault
And on behalf of the Company:
D. J. David
D. N. McFarlane
A hearing in this matter was held at Montreal on September 13, 1984.
The Joint Statement of Fact and Issue in this matter is as follows:
JOINT STATEMENT OF FACT
On February 21, 1984, Carman Helper, J.B. Sylvester was dismissed for "consuming and having in his possession for consumption alcohol while on duty at Alyth Yard on February 9, 1984".
JOINT STATEMENT OF ISSUE
It is the position of the Union that Mr. Sylvester was unjustly dealt with and that he should be reinstated with all rights and benefits as provided in the Collective Agreement and be compensated for all time lost.
The Company denies the claim.
The facts are not in dispute and were admitted by the grievor at the investigation of this matter conducted by the company. The grievor was hired by the company on January 5, 1982, as a Labourer at the Alyth Car Department. He was promoted to a Carman Helperís position on July 15, 1983, and was working in that capacity on the day in question.
On February 9, 1984, the grievor reported (a few minutes late), at 1600. He was assigned to car oiling and train inspections with another Carman Helper. At approximately 1900 the grievor was found in the caboose of Train 403 in Alyth yard, with a full twelve-once bottle of "Southern Comfort" in his possession. The other employee was present in the caboose, but there is nothing to suggest either that he had consumed any alcohol, or that he would have done so.
The grievor had opened the bottle, but would appear not to have drunk from it when he was discovered. He attempted, unsuccessfully, to hide the bottle and a short while later threw it out of the car. When asked to identify himself, he gave a false name.
Although the grievor would not appear to have been drinking prior to reporting for work about 1600 (a supervisor who spoke to him at about 1730 stated that there was no smell of liquor on his breath at that time), he did in fact bring a part bottle of liquor to work, in addition to the full bottle which was discovered at about 1900. He began drinking from the part bottle at about 1730. That part bottle contained, according to the grievorís statement, about six ounces of liquor. He drank that by himself, outside the yard office, and threw the empty bottle into a garbage can. This explains the symptoms of alcohol consumption described by the company officers who spoke to the grievor later.
Drinking on the job is, in most industrial situations, a serious offence. While the grievorís faculties may or may not have been noticeably impaired at the time he was caught, it is, I think, clear that they would have been impaired had he continued in the course which he had begun. Such an offence would, as a general matter, be grounds for discharge in the case of an employee involved in the operation of trains, and there is no very substantial distinction between such employees and those whose duties involve, as here, the inspection of trains. Quite apart from the dangers to himself which are inherent in the working environment, the potential risk of harm to others must be said to be very great.
The grievor does not have very long seniority, and while earlier demerits had been cleared in early September, 1983, when the grievor had a yearís clear record, he had been assessed 10 demerits for a safety offence on September 29, 1983, so that he did not have a clear record at the time of the incident in question. Apart from his actual record, the grievor admitted at the investigation to having had and consumed alcohol on company premises on two or three previous occasions. The grievor has a drinking problem, but appears to have done nothing about it until after the incident in question.
Clearly, there was just cause for discipline in the circumstances. Having regard to the grievorís employment history and the nature of his work, the discharge of the grievor was proper.
For all of the foregoing reasons, the grievance is dismissed.
DATED AT TORONTO, this 9th day of October, 1984.
(signed) J. F. W. Weatherill