Driving test examiners to strike from February 8 in a row over workloads as test delays persist
Almost 2,000 driving test examiners will strike for four consecutive days this week in a row over their workloads.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union are at odds with the DVSA over what they describe as a ‘flawed plan’ to slash waiting times for driving tests.
At the end of last year, learner drivers ready to take the practical side of the exam were waiting an average of 18.3 weeks for an available slot – up from six weeks before the pandemic.
Under the ‘driver services recovery programme’ – spearheaded by transport secretary Mark Harper – the aim is to get the average waiting time to seven weeks by the end of March.
But according to the PCS union, this proposal requires a target to carry out 150,000 extra tests in the coming two months on top of existing workloads, which it claims will put both the safety of candidates and examiners themselves at risk.
Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “To recover a backlog of tests that was their own making, Mark Harper and management in the DVSA have demonstrated that they are willing not only to jeopardise our members’ safety and attack their terms and conditions. They are also showing scant regard for safety standards for driving test candidates.
“Although they desperately want to see a reduction in waiting times, our members will not tolerate paying the price for political stunts and managerial failings that threaten to further undermine this vital public service.”
In December the DVSA said it was doing all it could to cut waiting times including employing new driving examiners on flexible contracts with weekend hours and asking more eligible managers and administrative staff to carry out driving tests full-time.
Walkouts will happen at 270 test centres between February 8 and February 11.
Driving Instructors Association chief executive Carly Brookfield said: “This strike could not have come at a worst time in terms of driving test recovery.
“Whilst DVSA was indicating the deployment of extra staffing resource was starting to have an encouraging impact on test waiting times, examiner industrial action will inevitably set this progress back – with a continuing and very real impact being felt by pupils and driving instructors scrambling for test slots and juggling pupil demand and pressure.”