PCS suspends driving examiners' strikes to negotiate terms of £1,500 payment

Union raises concern about "unacceptable" plans to pay part-time DVSA staff less than the full lump sum
A picket line outside a driving test centre in Barnet, London. Photo: PA/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

15 Jun 2023

PCS has cancelled strike action at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency after the Department for Transport confirmed it will pay a £1,500 cost-of-living payment to its officials.

Civil servants at the DVSA – which is sponsored by DfT – were due to walk out today, as well as on the 16, 19, 22 and 23 June, but cancelled the action yesterday afternoon.

PCS said it has suspended the strikes while it negotiates with DfT how and when the government's £1,500 non-consolidated lump sum to civil servants will be paid.

“We cannot proceed with further discussions on its implementation while live strike action is ongoing, meaning payment would be delayed,” the union said.

Earlier this month, the government offered a £1,500 payment to all civil servants in “recognition of the financial pressures civil servants have faced over the last year”, bringing its 2023-24 pay proposals for the civil service in line with other public sector workforces.

Originally, the government set out a pay remit for this year which raised civil service pay by 4.5-5%. Unlike the offers to NHS workers and teachers, it contained no one-off cost-of-living payment, angering civil service unions.

The latest offer, which also commits to a moratorium the Civil Service Compensation Scheme until 2025 and to avoiding compulsory redundancies wherever possible, has been welcomed by civil service unions. The FDA has cancelled plans to ballot its members over taking strike action and Prospect has halted its industrial action after almost three months of walkouts and action-short of strike.

PCS, however, has said it will continue strike action until every employer had agreed to pay the £1,500 as quickly as possible and without conditions.

PCS gets sickness and benefits assurance but warns over ‘unacceptable’ pro-rata plan

All officials who were employed in the civil service on 31 March and will still be when the payment is made will receive it, but departments will decide individually how it is applied.

DfT has agreed that staff on sickness absence measures or poor-peformance measures will receive the payment, PCS said.

The department has also agreed to work with the union to mitigate the impacts on those receiving in-work benefits, the union added.

However, PCS has raised concerns over the department’s plan to pay part-time workers only a proportion of the payment based on the number of hours they work.

The union said it has “made clear to DfT senior representatives that a pro-rata payment is completely unacceptable” and warned that industrial action “may escalate across the department” if it proceeds with the proposal.

“The cost-of-living impacts everyone, regardless of working hours,” PCS said.

The union said it will now hold detailed discussions with DfT on the removal of this condition and on other aspects of how the civil service 2023-24 pay remit is distributed.

PCS has not yet cancelled strikes at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency – another DfT agency – which began on Sunday. 

Government offer a 'significant' achievement

PCS has not yet decided whether to end its national campaign over pay in response to the government’s improved pay remit.

While the new conditions do not meet PCS’s demand of a 10% pay rise for civil servants for 2022-23, the union called the concessions are “a significant achievement”.

“It is the first time in our union’s history that members taking national action in the UK civil service and related areas have forced a government to make concessions on pay at national level resulting in considerable extra money for members,” it said in a FAQ page on its website about the new deal.

PCS said it will meet with the Cabinet Office at the end of June to take stock of progress and check that all bargaining areas have committed to paying the £1,500 without conditions. Its National Executive Committee will then meet to decide if enough progress has been made to settle the dispute, or whether it needs to ramp up industrial action to try to get more out of the government.

Read the most recent articles written by Tevye Markson - Just four major departments meet threshold for strike action in PCS pay ballot


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