Driving tests across the country were cancelled as PCS members working for DVSA walked out today (4 December)
The two-day strike follows action short of strike since 23 November, where members only worked their contracted hours and to the exact wording of their employment contracts. The dispute is over an increase to working hours and safety concerns about the new driving test, introduced today.
Driving tests cancelled
PCS members at driving test centres aross the United Kingdom held picket lines and appealed to colleagues not to go in to work. Around 10,000 driving tests have been cancelled over the two days of the strike. After the strike ends tomorrow the backlog of tests will increase because of an overtime ban.
Despite the inconvenience to learner drivers whose tests have been cancelled (with an approximate waiting time of nine weeks to re-book), members on the picket lines reported a high level of support from members of the public.
Solidarity and support
At the test centre in Barnet, north London, the picket line was covered on Good Morning Britain and there was lots of support and "honks" from passing public and cars. The first driving test of the day, normally at 9 a.m., didn’t go ahead until 12:38 due to the strike action.
At Chadderton in Greater Manchester, around 20 PCS members were on the picket line, joined by local driving instructors who were in agreement with the driving examiners’ concerns about the safety of the new driving test.
Picket lines were also held at sites including Swansea, Llanelli, Newport, Cardiff, Liverpool, Leicester and Bimringham.
In Liverpool striking PCS DVSA members joined up for a rally with GMB and Unite members working for bus company Arriva, who were also on strike today, and members from RMT, who are involved in their own long-running dispute over jobs and safety.
Darren Gerrard, branch secretary of the Department for Transport north west branch, addressed a crowd of around 200 people in the city centre, made up of union members and Christmas shoppers who gathered to listen.
He said, “We can draw parallels between the bus and train drivers’ struggle and the dispute between PCS and the DVSA.
“After years of less than 1 percent pay rises, detrimental changes to our working practices and increased pension contributions, driving examiners, vehicle inspectors and enforcement officers are now being expected to work up to 7 hours a week more for no extra reward.
“In addition to this driving examiners are now expected to deliver a new driving test which contains elements which we consider to be a danger, not only to our members but to the general public as well.”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said, “The determination of our members in DVSA is clear. They are standing up both for the issues of driver and learner safety in the new test and against the imposition of new conditions imposed on them by senior management.
“We remain ready to negotiate but are equally determined to stand up for our members’ rights.”
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