SHP 360

IN THE MATTER OF AN ARBITRATION

BETWEEN

VIA Rail Canada Inc.

AND

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

IN THE MATTER OF THE GRIEVANCE of MR. S. SAUCIER

 

 

SOLE ARBITRATOR: HARVEY FRUMKIN

 

 

There appeared on behalf of the Union:

A. ROSNER Executive Secretary, CCRSU

L. BINIARIS System General Chairman President D.L. No. 2, IAM

C. ROBERT System General Chairman IAM

 

 

There appeared on behalf of the Company:

K.A. PRIDE

 

A hearing in this matter was held in Montreal on March 16, 1992.

 

AWARD

The grievance takes issue with the assessment of fifteen (15) demerit marks against the Grievor's record for having left his work station on January 15, 1991, without permission. The assessment resulted in the accumulation by the Grievor of sixty-five (65) demerit marks and his consequent dismissal. The Association's position is that there exists no justification for the assessment of fifteen (15) demerit marks and that for this reason the dismissal must be set aside.

The Grievor, at the time of the dismissal, had somewhat in excess of three years service and was classified as a boiler maker. He was assigned the 07:00 15:00 work shift.

On January 15, 1991, the Grievor commenced his work shift on schedule when he was assigned by his supervisor, Mr. S. Charette, to perform an E2 inspection on locomotive 6902. Performance of the assignment commenced without incident and the Grievor was observed at work by the supervisor at approximately 08:00 hours. The same supervisor, Mr. Charette, checked upon the progress of work at 09:00 hours and discovered that the Grievor was no longer at the assigned work place. He thoroughly checked the immediate area, but the Grievor was nowhere to be found.

Mr. Charette resolved to locate the Grievor and summoned two other supervisors to assist him in this regard. Their search covered the change rooms, washrooms, canteen, areas around tracks 3 and 4 and the inside and outside of locomotives and coaches. This notwithstanding, the search produced no result until 10:15 when one of the supervisors located the Grievor outside the tool crib. The Grievor was immediately questioned as to where he had been and stated that he had been working underneath locomotive 6902.

An investigation of the alleged infraction of  avoir quitté votre lieu de travail sans permission, le 15 janvier 1991  was then proceeded with. The investigation would appear to have been concluded by January 24, 1991, and ultimately led to the assessment of fifteen (15) demerit marks for the infraction and the Grievor's dismissal.

The Grievor's explanation as to his whereabouts between 09:00 hours and 10:15 hours on the day in question appears from portions of his interview conducted during the course of the investigation of January 24, 1991.

12. Q: M. Saucier, lorsque vous devez effectuer du travail à l'extérieur de votre département (Maintenance) n'est-il pas normal d'aviser votre Contremaître de la situation ?

R: Quand J'ai demandé mes 2 "plate" je me suis dirigé vers la "Machine Shop" pour les redresser. Je n'ai pas particulièrement regardé pour voir M. Charette (je ne l'ai pas rencontré sur mon chemin) parce que moi j'effectuais mon travail pour le 6902.

13. Q: M. Saucier, selon des réponses que vous m'avez données dans cet interrogatoire, il me semble évident que vous avez effectivement quitté votre lieu de travail sans permission cette journée la. Est-ce exact ?

R: Pour moi, je n'ai pas quitté mon lieu de travail parce que la "Machine Shop" est dans le Centre d'Entretien et que si M. Charette me cherchait il à a un haut parleur dans la "Machine Shop" et je l'aurais entendu, car j'y étais pour redresser mes 2 "plate" sur la presse hydraulique.

And earlier on,

9. Q: M. Saucier, avez-vous des commentaires pertinents à dire sur les écrits énoncés dans l'annexe "A" ?

R: Oui, si M. Charette ne m'a pas aperçu sous la loco 6902 entre 09 h l5 et l0 h l5 ce jour là, c'est que j'étais occupé à redresser à "plate" pour la cété du "Pilot" (cété gauche) du 6902. J'étais allé redresser ces à "plate", dans la "Machine Shop" car je crois que cela fait parti de mon travail et c'est à cet endroit la que nous allons normalement, étant donné que la presse sur la voie #5 ouest est trop petite pour redresser les "plate" sur lesquelles je travaillais.

Lorsque M. Charette m'a rencontré, dans l'allée du "Tool Crib", je lui ai répondu que je revenais d'en dessous du 6902 (j'avais ramené la première "plate" et je retournais chercher la deuxième) ce qui explique ma réponse dans le paragraphe 3 de l'annexe "A".

Lorsque je lui ai dit que mon inspection était complétée, celui-ci (M. Charette) ne me croyait pas parce que les feuilles n'étaient pas signées. Nous sommes donc retournés sur le 6902 ensemble pour vérifier les items d'inspection "E", après que j'ai eu signé les feuilles.

Dans cette inspection, nous avons revérifié mon travail et nous avons constat que mon inspection était complété. Donc, à ce moment la, pour moi, il ne me restait qu'a reposer les 2 "Plate" que j'avais redressées.

Pour la fissure sur le "pilot" je ne l'avais pas rapporté sur les 50l parce que je croyais qu'il l'avait sur son transfert car la dernière fois que nous avions travaillé sur le 6902, avant les fêtes, il m'avait dit que nous le ferions à la prochaine inspection (avant les fêtes, le chaudronnier, C. Lortie, avait fait une réparation temporaire sur le "Pilot").

Demande de sortir accepté: l0 h 39

Retour: l0 h 42

Si M. Charette me cherchait pour une raison particulière, il aurait sauvé du temps et des efforts s'il avait utilisé l'intercom qui est dans les ateliers comme il le fait en général lorsqu'il veut voir quelqu'un.

Je rajouterais que la raison pour laquelle les feuilles de travail n'étaient pas remplies c'est que normalement je fais l'inspection et je fais des 50l tout au long du quart de travail. Par la suite, a la fin du "shift", je complète les feuilles et j'inscrit aussi tout le travail qui reste à faire sur la loco pour les autres.

In effect, what the Grievor is saying is that he removed two pilot plates from the left side of locomotive 6902 for straightening. This operation required removal of the pilot plates to the machine shop where the necessary apparatus for this type of work was located. He maintains, therefore, that during the one hour and fifteen minute period under review, he was either working at the job site removing or reinstalling the pilot plates, or in the machine shop straightening them. He concludes on this basis that he was always "on the job" and hence did not commit the infraction attributed to him.

The position of the Corporation and versions of the supervisors is that the pilot plates were observed to have been in place at 09:00 hours and were noticed intact on the locomotive at 10:15 hours. The inference that the Corporation draws from this is that the Grievor could not have been straightening the pilot plates as he pretends, as they remained on the unit throughout.

The Board has difficulty in attaching credence to the Grievor's version of the circumstances of his absence from the job site during the period under review, for the following reasons. The Grievor maintains that the two pilot plates remained to be installed. when he returned with the supervisor, Mr. Charette, to the job site at 10:15 hours. (See answer to question 9 above). Surely, if such was the case, his explanation would not have been suspect as it was. The basis of the suspicions of the supervisor was rooted in the fact that the pilot plates were in place. Such suspicions were magnified by the fact that working tools were not observed in the vicinity of the locomotive throughout the period under review. Furthermore, the Grievor was observed in the vicinity of the tool crib some distance from the job site. This presence is unexplained. In keeping with the Grievor's explanation, he could only have been away from the job site for purposes of straightening the pilot plates, but he was not in possession of pilot plates when encountered in the vicinity of the tool crib. Moreover, all supervisors involved in the search, and particularly Mr. Charette who testified at the hearing, confirm that the pilot plates were in place when the Grievor was discovered at 10:15 hours.

The Board has no idea where the Grievor may have been between 09:00 and 10:15 hours, but the facts as they have been submitted are quite incompatible with the Grievor's explanation, which explanation the Board is inclined to see as pure fabrication after the fact. The Grievor's initial reaction when confronted was to state that he was working under locomotive 6902 and only later when it became apparent that a thorough search had been ongoing did the matter of his presence in the machine shop arise.

The Board sees the various other issues which arose at the hearing as accessory to the main issue of the authenticity of the Grievor's explanation of his whereabouts between 09:00 hours and the moment he was discovered on the morning of January 15, 1991. That the Grievor may not have recorded the presence of cracks on the front pilot of the locomotive in his inspection report, or indeed, that he had not yet completed and signed the inspection report at the moment of discovery, would be secondary to this principal issue. Further, the association's contention of various irregularities in the manner in which the Corporation proceeded with its investigation, and particularly the manner in which it prepared the charge of infraction imputed to the Grievor, do not amount to grounds for concluding that the approach and investigation embarked upon by the Corporation was not fair and impartial. The Grievor was discovered absent from the work area to which he had been assigned. The Corporation would at least have been entitled to an honest explanation under any circumstances.

It is true that the Corporation may have summoned the Grievor by intercom rather than embarking upon the extensive search that it did. It is equally true that the Corporation did not confront the Grievor with all of the evidence that it had before demanding the explanation to which it was entitled. Again, the Corporation may have placed more emphasis than it should have on the thoroughness of the inspection report and its proper completion. But be that as it may, the Grievor knew full well that what the Corporation was seeking was an explanation of his whereabouts during a specific period and his response was to provide an explanation which, as the Tribunal has stated above, would appear to be nothing more than fabrication. It is this factor which makes the Grievor's infraction all the more culpable and why the Board can take no issue with the manner in which the Corporation responded to it, particularly when it is considered with due regard to his work record which is replete with similar infractions.

For the foregoing reasons, the grievance is dismissed.

DATED AT MONTREAL, April 06, 1992.

(sgd) HARVEY FRUMKIN

Arbitrator