UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An analysis of discharge arbitrations in British Columbia : 1974-1977 Eeckhout, Tomi Richard


The safe and efficient operation of any enterprise is to a certain extent dependent upon a disciplined labour force. The action or threat of dismissing an employee is one of the most powerful tools employers can use in attempting to achieve that goal. However, it can be abused and protection against its arbitrary application is perhaps one of the most important benefits a worker secures from membership in a union. Union members dismissed for reasons considered to be unjust may appeal to a board of arbitration to overturn management's disciplinary action. Those employees who do not belong to a union have, by comparison, little recourse against arbitrary dismissal. This thesis attempts to provide a comprehensive analysis of discharge arbitration awards filed in British Columbia during the years 1974-1977. A sample of 216 arbitration awards was studied. The results of that analysis are presented in two parts. First, a descriptive analysis of the parties (the grievors, the employers, and the arbitrators) appearing in the awards is presented. Secondly, an analysis of the arbitral disposition of the discharge cases studied is undertaken. That analysis attempts to explain the overall statistical outcome of the awards in relation to the characteristics of the parties contained in the awards. The thesis produced results which are believed to have some important practical implications. It was revealed that during the period of analysis employers in British Columbia were successful in having their discharge actions upheld by arbitrators in only one of three cases. This figure varied according to the labour force size of the dismissing firm. Employers of more than 5000 employees were about 50 percent more successful than employers of less than 500 employees in convincing arbitrators of the need to dismiss employees. A failure to administer discipline in a manner consistent with the theory of corrective discipline appeared to be the major downfall of employers of relatively few employees. It is proposed, therefore, that if feasible an educational program designed to the benefit of employers, unions, and the arbitration process itself be introduced to employers to insure that disciplinary action is more properly administered.

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