DVLA staff vote to strike over Covid health and safety fears

Members of the civil service’s biggest union back industrial action following concerns about infection rates and on-site staffing numbers
DVLA

By Jim Dunton

12 Mar 2021

Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency who are members of the PCS union have voted in favour of strike action over health and safety concerns at the organisation’s Swansea campus.

Results of the ballot run by the union found 71.6% of respondents in favour of strike action in protest at current measures, which require around 2,000 staff to work on-site despite the pandemic lockdown.

Turnout for the ballot – which closed earlier this week – was 50.3%, just over the threshold for any strike action to be legal.

In January it emerged that there had been a spike in coronavirus cases among DVLA staff, with more than 500 incidences recorded since September.  

Chief executive Julie Lennard told members of parliament’s Transport Select Committee the increased number cases were a reflection of what was happening in the community, rather than at DVLA.

PCS has repeatedly called for on-site staff numbers at Swansea to be scaled back to levels seen in spring last year, when just a couple of hundred staff were required to work from offices. 

General secretary Mark Serwotka said the ballot result was a “damning indictment” on DVLA management and their “abject failure” to keep staff safe.

“Our members have sent a loud and clear message that they are not safe at their place of work,” he said. 

“The strength of feeling amongst staff comes as no surprise, given the management’s disregard for the safety of their workers.

“Our members have been forced into this position and industrial action will take place unless management immediately implement all necessary changes to ensure staff are safe at work.”

A DVLA spokesperson said the organisation had followed and implemented Welsh Government guidance at every point throughout the pandemic and had worked with Public Health Wales, Environmental Health and Swansea Bay Health Board to introduce a wide range of safety measures.

“This has enabled DVLA staff to continue to deliver essential services to the public right across the UK in a COVID-19 secure way,” they said.

“Any industrial action is likely  to have a detrimental impact on motorists as we begin the first stages of the roadmap out of lockdown and the UK vaccination rollout programme is in full swing. We hope that PCS will consider this impact when deciding how it wishes to proceed.     

“Cases of Covid-19 among DVLA staff remain low, and currently there are just five positive cases, including those working from home, out of a workforce of more than 6,000.”

When PCS launched the strike ballot last month, the union said a positive response would pave the way for spring walk-outs at DVLA. 

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