National News

DVSA warn of driving examiner strike

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is warning that some driving examiners are planning to take strike action on Monday 4th December and Tuesday 5th December 2017.

Some driving examiners who are members of the Public and Commercial Service (PCS) union are planning to take strike action on Monday 4 December and Tuesday 5 December 2017.

You can either:

  • change your test appointment to a later date
  • turn up for your test as planned, but your examiner might be unavailable

Not all driving examiners are union members, and even if they are, they might choose not to go on strike.

The way the car driving test works is changing on Monday 4 December 2017. These changes will still go ahead as planned.

If your driving test is cancelled

You won’t have to contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to rebook your appointment if you can’t take your test because of strike action.

DVSA will contact you with a new test appointment within 5 to 10 working days.

Out of pocket expenses

You can claim out of pocket expenses if your test is cancelled, but you must have turned up for your test to be able to do this. If you don’t turn up, you’ll have to rebook your own test and won’t be able to claim expenses.

Theory tests

Theory tests aren’t affected by the strike action and will be taking place as planned.

DVSA: What the strike is about

The strike action is about a new standard employment contract that DVSAstaff signed up to in 2014. In return for changes to their terms and conditions, they received a buy-out and a 3-year pay deal.

This contract was negotiated with the unions and agreed by staff in a ballot. Since then, PCS has opposed some aspects of the contract

PCS is now trying to link the dispute with health and safety risks of changes to the driving test. The new driving test has been designed to make sure drivers are better prepared for a lifetime of safe driving.

The changes have been developed and trialled extensively with input from DVSA staff, learner drivers, their instructors and other road safety professionals.

DVSA carried out risk assessments and commissioned the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to carry out an independent assessment. These show that the new test manoeuvres were low risk.

Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA Chief Executive, 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. It is one step in helping reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads.”

During the last 3 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 2017 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.

PCS: Strong Rebuttal Issued

The PCS have issued a strong rebuttal to DVSA following the announcement of strike dates.

Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) announced the start dates for industrial action for members who work for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in a dispute over the new driving test and also working patterns. A work to rule will begin on 23 November and strike dates set for 4 and 5 December.

A strike ballot in October saw an 84% vote for strike action on a 70% turnout.

The DVSA Chief Executive yesterday responded to our notification of the strike action with a statement that had a series of inaccuracies in it. PCS would welcome further negotiations with DVSA and the Department for Transport (DfT) about the issue and have written to the DVSA suggesting this. However in response to the DVSA statement a PCS spokesperson replied:

“PCS worked with DVSA and consultants on a joint timing study of over 4,000 tests in 2016. The timing study was agreed as part of the dispute resolution process we agreed with DVSA in March 2016. In respect of the study there were 5 main findings:

  1. DVSA were forced to accept that the 8 test day they were seeking to force through at the time was impossible to impose on workers who have a 37 hour per week contract.
  2. The proposed sat nav test meant a 6 test day was appropriate (it’s currently 7) due to the time of the new test which is over an hour.
  3. That staff routinely break and are encouraged by managers to break health and safety law because they skip statutory break periods to fit tests in
  4. The testing regime means workers do not have adequate time to conduct other work that they are required to do
  5. That the new test needed further work and refinement   

We endorsed the report and have demanded negotiations around it. To date – and with the new test less than a month from launch – there has not been one meeting. Management refuse to negotiate on the new test and instead have refined the test without us and carried out a shoddy risk assessment. We have also done a risk assessment that they have dismissed.  

PCS will be challenging the DVSA risk assessment and we publish the results of ours to demonstrate all of the concerns our members have and those flagged by driving instructors.

PCS met the DVSA Chief Executive on 2nd November. We agreed to mediation if the employer dropped its proposals on travel time and agreed to find a better solution. The DVSA CE refused. He stated it was nothing to do with him and that travel time was ‘a DfT issue’.  DfT have refused to meet PCS unless we withdraw our threat of industrial action”.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka commented “Rather than engage with PCS in a serious manner the DVSA and DfT have resorted to half- truths and inaccuracies in their attempt to deflect blame for this dispute. I call upon Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to get a grip of this issue and get his officials around the table with PCS to discuss the issues and avoid the industrial action that is planned.”