In a hierarchal workplace, disciplinary power can only be wielded by management, and while often justified, nevertheless serves as an instrument of domination. Most will be familiar with the progression from verbal warning, to written warning, to final written warning, to dismissal. Each of those steps, that can potentially be leapfrogged dependent on the severity of the offence. The worker is therefore cognisant, that their financial security, is contingent on their conduct at work, and that they lack any recourse other than tribunal.
Eliminate hierarchal power and that whole dynamic changes. Everyone has the power to initiate disciplinary action, and conversely everyone is also afforded the power to reverse out of the process by way of enacting restitution. Where someone is undeniably in the wrong then they may choose to address that, if not then surely there is little to fear from the conclusion of a process that is ultimately dependent on consensus?
Disciplinary action thus morphs into a routine means of safeguarding the common good, and mitigating the necessity of collective responsibility, particularly in regard to minor misconduct:
“Did you do [or fail to do] this thing?”
“Fix it or I’ll initiate disciplinary action.”
The person at fault now has the option of rectifying the situation, or eating the associated warning. That’s entirely their call.
With this in mind, the threat of disciplinary action is no big deal, and even in instances of serious or gross misconduct, there’s usually scope for restitution. In a worker collective, the disciplinary process must therefore be viewed as a tool for addressing lapses of conscientiousness, rather than an instrument of oppression. Members should not be shy about resorting to it, or put out by having it invoked in response to their failings. It’s a useful means of governing behaviour and maintaining collective cohesion, nothing more. It’s deployment should therefore be a matter of routine, and not something to be stigmatised.