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Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency members vote for strike action

14 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Learner Driver.

Union members working for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) responsible for carrying out driving tests have overwhelmingly voted to take industrial action.

More than 1900 Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members across England, Wales and Scotland have voted for action by a margin of 90.5% on a turnout of 59.21% in response to an attempt by management to erode their terms and conditions. Strike dates will be announced in due course.

Backlog of tests

The PCS members, who carry out driving tests and approve people to be driving instructors, are in a dispute with management over plans to reduce the backlog of tests.

The so-called ‘driver services recovery programme’ – which seeks to recover backlogs to a national average of 7 weeks by 31 March 2024 – is being driven by the political ambitions of Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport.

The programme poses significant safety risks to test candidates and examiners, as well as an erosion of staff’s terms and conditions. It completely fails to address the root causes of the backlog and requires staff to cover 150,000 tests above capacity.

‘Huge ballot result’

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “To recover a backlog of tests that was their own making, Mark Harper and management in the DVSA have demonstrated that they are willing not only to jeopardise our members’ safety and attack their terms and conditions. They are also showing scant regard for safety standards for driving test candidates.

“But this huge ballot result for PCS members at the DVSA indicates that that they are prepared to take highly disruptive strike action across England, Wales and Scotland to protect the integrity of the driving test and their existing terms and conditions.

“Although they desperately want to see a reduction in waiting times, our members will not tolerate paying the price for political stunts and managerial failings that threaten to further undermine this vital public service.”

DVSA Chief Executive Loveday Ryder said:“DVSA colleagues do an outstanding job in helping to keep our roads safe.

“We are working hard to reduce waiting times, which includes employing new driving examiners on flexible contracts with weekend hours.

“The safety of driving examiners, customers, and all road users is hugely important, and we always assess and reduce any risks. We will not tolerate any form of abuse.

“It is disappointing that the PCS ballot supports industrial action. We remain open to talks with PCS to find a resolution.

“We will update customers on any impact as soon as we have more information.”

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