22 November 2021

PCS responds to DVLA ballot result comments

PCS is calling on the DVLA to conclude a health and safety agreement if the department's priority is the health and safety of staff.

Last week, DVLA chief executive Julie Lennard declared to all staff following the result of our latest industrial action ballot that: “It’s important to say that the ballot was never about winning or losing, as our only priority throughout has been staff safety.”

If health and safety really is the priority here, why is the DVLA refusing to come back around the negotiating table and finalise a health and safety agreement that will keep staff safe?

The agreement already exists, it was crafted collaboratively between the DfT, DVLA and PCS earlier this year, before transport minister Grant Shapps took the deal off the table. The health and safety agreement would provide a protocol for addressing rising Covid cases on site, like the sharp rise in the 500+ cases we’ve seen since mid-August.

Shapps and transport minister Baroness Vere have taken every opportunity to say that the reason the deal was scrapped on 1 June was because PCS was asking for pay and holidays. The in-year reward has already been agreed and so the only thing needed to bring our dispute to an end is the health and safety agreement.

Members may rightly be sceptical to read the CEO’s comment that “the ballot was never about winning or losing” when she wrote to all staff on the first day of the ballot to urge them not to use their vote at all.

With cases on site rising rapidly and a ballot result which saw nearly 1000 staff voting for industrial action the department can’t afford to delay reaching an agreement.

Next steps

The PCS branch executive committee met to discuss next steps following the ballot result. We continue to lobby both Welsh and Westminster governments over a health and safety agreement. The branch has not ruled out further action at this stage.

We continue to be supported by MPs locally in fighting for a safer workplace, one of whom, Geraint Davies, wrote to Shapps and said: “It is crucially important to build bridges and move forward with magnanimity to rebuild trust and mutual respect for the good of this excellent public service.”