13 October 2021

PCS response to DVLA statement on our ballot

PCS has responded to DVLA CEO Julie Lennard discouraging our members from voting in our industrial action ballot by urging all who are eligible to take part and have their say.

Ms Lennard posted on the DVLA staff intranet that if members “do not support industrial action, you will make your views felt much more effectively if you simply do not vote at all and do not return a ballot paper.”

As a democratic, lay-led union we want as many members as possible to exercise their right to vote in this ballot and tell us whether they would be willing to take the following action in support of PCS’ dispute over health and safety at the DVLA:

  1. Strike action
  2. Action short of strike.

By taking part in the ballot, they will speak for themselves as a member of their trade union, whether they agree to further action or not.

She says she believes the threat of further action is “unnecessary, uncalled for and unfair on our customers” and insists it will cause “hardship and distress for our customers, impacting on the nation’s recovery from the pandemic and putting our future plans at risk through the damage to DVLA’s reputation.”

In the six-month period since our last industrial action ballot, PCS has been in negotiations with DVLA and DfT senior leaders and we have been close to reaching agreement twice. On both occasions, these agreements have been scuppered at the eleventh hour by ministers who would rather risk staff health and safety than admit that things need to improve.

Our members, who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, are keen to move forward by reaching an agreement with DVLA management on immediate, medium, and long-term measures in respect of health and safety and Covid that fully protects members’ interests. This would include confirming what we have already negotiated, plus a protocol on Covid safety.

We also want to agree a workplace recovery plan which will benefit the whole of the agency, including an agreement on staffing and working time.

Ms Lennard concludes by saying: “It is time to draw a line under this, to stop looking backwards, and for us as an organisation to now move forward together and to all play our part to help the country recover from the pandemic.”

As we have already said this week our members want nothing more than to get back to work safely and to serve the public. But disappointingly the DVLA does not have a plan to keep staff safe and is also planning to bring more staff back on to the site (145), as well as reducing Covid security measures which are in place to keep staff safe. This includes reducing the isolation period following a positive case from 10 days to 72 hours, as well as increasing the capacity across the sites.

One of the key tenets of our dispute has been the DVLA’s refusal to allow most operational staff to work from home. The arguments that this is due to sensitive data being handled is incorrect as HMRC and DWP staff handling the same data have been allowed to work from home.

To resolve this dispute the DVLA needs to agree a clear plan for health and safety on site and take the health and safety of staff seriously.

The ballot runs from 12 October to 10 November. Members who join PCS between Friday, 1 October and Wednesday, 27 October will be included in the ballot.