DVSA pledges to 'rebuild trust' after strike called off

Union welcomes "substantial change in position" in dispute over eight-test schedule for driving examiners
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The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has promised to “rebuild trust” among its staff after narrowly avoiding a strike that could have seen up to 1,000 driving examiners walk out.

The PCS union called off its planned two-day walkout after the DVSA agreed pause plans which would see staff carrying out more driving tests each day.

The two-day strike, in protest of plans to increase the number of tests examiners had to do each day from seven to eight, had been due to start today.

The agency had said increasing daily tests would help it to clear a backlog that had built up during the Covid crisis. The dispute also came amid concerns about a shortage of HGV drivers.

The union said the DVSA has now demonstrated a “significant and substantial change in position” and met its key demands.

As well as guaranteeing an eighth test would not be added to examiners’ schedules in the next 12 months, DVSA management agreed to conduct a full timing study with PCS reps that will support future discussions.

And they agreed to work with the union on the findings of an occupational psychology study the agency had commissioned to look at the impact on driving examiners of introducing an eight-day test day schedule. The DVSA is developing an action plan to address the review’s recommendations.

PCS will ask its members to vote to accept the agreement following a “reasonable period of consultation”.

“From the beginning, we have sought to reach an agreed position with DVSA that prevents the need for industrial action at the same time as protecting our members,” the union said.

“We believe very firmly that this agreement does that and respects the overwhelming mandate that members gave us in this dispute.”

DVSA to ‘rebuild trust before considering any different ways of working’

In a letter to staff on Friday, DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder said the decision to call off the strike was “great news for all of us”.

She said that as well as looking to address the recommendations of the occupational psychology study, the agency wanted to “work with local driving test managers and examiners to develop the plan further and to implement the priority recommendations and rebuild trust between our colleagues and DVSA before considering any different ways of working”.

She said the agency had increased the number of tests available by getting employees who do not usually carry out tests to pitch in, and by offering out of hours and weekend tests.

However, she said demand for tests remained high, with learners having to wait an average of 15 weeks for a car test. Seventy-nine test centres have a waiting time of the maximum 24 weeks, she said.

|We will also be consulting on a range of regulatory measures, which aim to reduce the number of candidates booking a test who are not ready and give us greater flexibility to provide more tests. We’ll share more information on this in due course,” she added.

To help tackle the HGV driver shortage, Ryder said the DVSA had streamlined legislation to speed up the time it takes to get an HGV licence and used support from Ministry of Defence examiners to offer more tests.

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