2,000 DVSA driving examiners are set to stage a 48-hour strike from 4 December, the day the new driving test is launched, in a dispute over working conditions and safety concerns.
The driving test changes are designed to ensure learners are better prepared for real-life driving conditions.
The Public and Commercial Service union (PCS) says a strike ballot in October returned ‘overwhelming support’ for industrial action, with 84% voting for strike action on a 70% turnout.
An overtime ban and work to rule will start on 23 November, followed by strike action on 4 and 5 December.
PCS says the action may affect 14,500 driving tests, as well as court cases relating to unsafe vehicles and motoring offences and roadside checks on HGV vehicles.
The DVSA says the PCS is showing ‘a shameful disregard for both road safety and learner drivers’.
PCS says DVSA management has refused to meet to discuss its concerns, ‘leaving members no option but to take action in opposition to the changes to their terms and conditions and to try to force management and ministers to reconsider’.
PSC says it has highlighted ‘serious concerns’ about the new driving test from a health and safety point of view. The union has called for the new test to be suspended ‘pending a full safety review after incidents occurred on driving lessons which have been conducted to the new testing arrangements’.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “Our members whose jobs are about ensuring our roads are safe for drivers and pedestrians have voted overwhelmingly to demonstrate that these changes are unacceptable.
“Ministers can avoid this strike action by instructing their officials in DVSA to scrap the plans and re-enter serious negotiations with PCS.”
DVSA says the strike action is about a new standard employment contract that DVSA staff signed up to in 2014, which ‘was negotiated with the unions and agreed by staff in a ballot’.
In a statement on its website, DVSA says PCS is ‘trying to link the dispute with health and safety risks of changes to the driving test’.
Gareth Llewellyn chief executive of the DVSA, said: " The fact PCS is trying to undermine the launch of the new test by calling for strike action shows a shameful disregard for both road safety and learner drivers who have worked so hard to be ready to take their test.
“The new driving test has been designed to make sure new drivers have the skills they need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving.
"During the last three years the changes – which are welcomed by most examiners, road safety experts, disability groups and instructors – have been developed and trialled extensively with a wide range of our staff, learners and other organisations. Over 4,000 candidates were involved in the trial.
"I met with PCS on 2 November and they turned down my offer of mediation, although our offer still stands. This means that we cannot move forward together to resolve this dispute, for the sake of our staff and customers."
Category: Driver training.