DVSA staff vote to end driving-test dispute

Union set to reintroduce strike levy as government-wide pay campaign heats up
Photo: DVSA

By Jim Dunton

02 Apr 2024

PCS members at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency have voted to end their dispute with management over measures to reduce waiting times for driving tests.

The union – which is the civil service's biggest – said today that a ballot of staff at DVSA had found 72% of members at the agency were in favour of drawing a line under the stand-off after concessions from bosses.

PCS had argued that proposals to require examiners to handle up to eight driving tests a day were a safety risk for both officials and test candidates,  and that that other measures to reduce driving-test backlogs would have "eroded" members' terms and conditions.

In December, a ballot of PCS members at DVSA found 90.5% were in favour of strike action to stop the original proposals.

PCS said it had tabled eight demands to avert strike action, all of which DVSA's improved proposal – which was the subject of last month's ballot – had met.

The union said that in addition to confirming that there would be no introducion of an "eight-test day" for examiners, DVSA's revised proposals included the potential for reduced weekend working for some examiners and an "acceptable overtime incentive".

DVSA chief executive Loveday Ryder said the agency was pleased the dispute had been resolved.

"DVSA colleagues do an outstanding job in helping to keep our roads safe and are working to bring waiting times down," she said.

"I am grateful to the DVSA and PCS negotiating teams for the productive discussions and their commitment to resolving the issues."

DVSA said that as of last month the average waiting time for a driving test was 17 weeks.

Strike levy set to return

Seperately, PCS has said it will reintroduce a "strike levy" from the end of next month to support anticipated strike action related to the government's yet-to-be-published 2024-25 pay offer for civil servants.

The levy is designed to fund targeted strikes as part of a national pay campaign, and would be a repeat of a similar levy in 2022 and 2023.

The union is balloting members across government for a mandate to strike over its demands for an inflation-proof pay increase for 2024-25, as well as a minimum of 35 days of annual leave and a "significant shortening" of the working week with no loss of pay.

The ballot runs until 13 May, by which time the government's 2024-25 pay remit guidance for rank-and-file officials is likely to have been published.

PCS said there is a "strong chance" that thousands of members will be on strike later this year and that the strike levy will help members who lose pay through taking strike action.

The law on industrial action requires a majority of union members to vote in favour of striking within defined work units – such as a department or agency – and at least half of eligible members within that unit must vote. Consequently, not all parts of government secure a mandate to strike.

PCS said the strike levy had enabled the union to carry out effective and sustained strike action across multiple employment areas last year, resulting in an improved offer beyond the 2.5-5% originally tabled that included a one-off cost-of-living payment worth £1,500.

"Combining targeted actions with three all-out one day strikes involving all members, we forced an offer from the UK government with concessions on pay, redundancy terms and promises of further talks on pay and job security," it said.

The strike levy will be set at £5 a month for members earning £24,000 a year or more and £3 a month for members who earn less.

This story was updated at 12:30pm on 3 April 2024 to include a response from DVSA

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