DVSA staff commence work-to-rule in contract dispute
Action pre-empts driving examiner strike expected to start in early December
Members of the PCS union who work for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have commenced work-to-rule action at the organisation in a wrangle over their contracts of employment.
Bosses have been put on notice that the dispute will escalate to strike action involving driving-test examiners early next month that PCS predicted would result in “large scale cancellations of tests” on the part of DVSA, which is an executive agency of the Department for Transport.
The first walk out is pencilled in for December 4 and 5 and coincides with the introduction of the new driving test for motorists, which incorporates the use of a satnav but ditches the traditional three-point-turn and reversing-around-a-corner manoeuvres in favour of other tests of skill.
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PCS has around 2,000 members at DVSA and said a ballot last month had resulted in 84% voting in favour of strike action, based on a 70% turnout. DVSA has 1,800 examiners, although not all all of them are PCS members.
The union said members had been advised to work precisely to their contracts of employment and strictly observe safety rules in the campaign, which is aimed at levering new negotiations over contract changes.
General secretary Mark Serwotka called on transport secretary Chris Grayling to intervene and bring DVSA bosses to the negotiating table.
“Rather than engage with PCS in a serious manner the DVSA and DfT have resorted to half-truths and inaccuracies in their attempt to deflect blame for this dispute,” he said.
“There is still time to avoid the strike action that is planned for 4 and 5 of December.”
DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn said the industrial action was “pointless” as PCS had convinced its members to give their backing the contract three years ago, although he conceded that the union had since opposed some aspects of it.
“We have made PCS an improved offer to the one they accepted, but the union is deliberately misleading its members by claiming the better offer we have put to them requires staff to work longer for less, when it does precisely the opposite,” he said.
“PCS’s shameful efforts to link the dispute to the new driving test in an attempt to broaden support for its unreasonable position shows a total disregard for learner drivers, who have worked so hard to be ready to take their test.”
DVSA questioned PCS’ motives in linking changes being introduced in the new test with health and safety risks, insisting that the agency’s own assessments and work commissioned by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents had deemed the new test manoeuvres, which include parallel parking, as “low risk”.
DVSA test examiners and other staff – including members of both PCS and the Prospect union – staged industrial action over elements of the new contracts in 2015, one year after the proposals were first floated.
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