Driving test examiners have announced the will hold a 48-hour strike to protest the introduction of a new driving test.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union said they will picket outside test centres on Monday and Tuesday over working conditions, including longer hours for no extra pay as new tests are introduced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
“PCS members in the DVSA have tried to negotiate around their concerns but the door has been slammed shut in their face,” PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said.
“They now feel they have no alternative but to take industrial action to bring home to the public how damaging the DVSA proposals are.
“No one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test.”
The DVSA claims the new test offers a better assessment of driving skills.
“PCS’s shameless industrial action is not about the safety of the new test, it’s about the implementation of the standardised Modernised Employment Contract which was introduced in 2014 that PCS members voted overwhelmingly to accept,” a statement said.
Serwotka, who has asked Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to intervene, said: “Learner drivers inconvenienced by this have our sympathy but the blame lies squarely with Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the Government.
“A completely inadequate, last-minute reply from the minister to me is so disappointing, and fails to address the causes of this dispute.
“He repeats the misinformation of DVSA management that travelling time was settled three years ago. This is completely wrong. Some issues were resolved in 2015 but travelling time was left to further negotiations.
“Talks have failed as DVSA insisted on imposing new rosters.”
Union members voted by 84% in favour of industrial action, with a turnout of 70%.
“PCS’s desperate claim that changes to the driving test will cause examiners to work longer and harder is simply not true,” said Adrian Long, DVSA director of people, communications & engagement.
“In the last year we’ve recruited more than 320 extra driving examiners – reducing waiting times to an average of seven weeks across the country. It’s also significantly reduced the number of times we ask examiners to work at other centres – 1.5 days on average in the last four months.
“This means that we are not asking examiners to travel an extra day each week as PCS claim.
“DVSA has met with PCS more than 40 times to try to solve this dispute but, despite our best efforts – including an offer of mediation – PCS has stuck to its unreasonable demands.
“The possibility of constructive discussions has been made even harder by their strike action.”