As reported last week driving examiners will commence industrial action today (with work to rule) and are still committed to striking on 4th and 5th December – as the new driving test launches.
Members of the Public and Commercial Service union (PCS) are taking action, ostensibly in opposition to the changes to the driving test, but primarily due to their wider grievances over contracts. The Union said examiners were being told to work longer, harder and for no extra pay when the new tests are introduced. DVSA argues PCS are using the new Driving Test merely as a battering ram in their wider dispute over contracts – contracts (as they point out) PCS originally agreed to.
An overtime ban and work to rule will also commence from today (23 November), which the Union says could lead to last minute cancellations of tests across England, Wales and Scotland.
DVSA have pointed to the fact that only about a third of Examiners are members of PCS, meaning that less than a third of Examiners will be involved in any industrial action, somewhat diminishing the threats of widespread disruption made by PCS.
In terms of the strikes planned for December, when it comes to the crunch, the union could also find that some of their members may be less than enthusiastic about actually taking action as both a day’s pay - and a day’s pension contribution - will be lost by those striking.
The union has called for the new test to be suspended pending a full safety review, and wants a limit of six tests a day for examiners. Last week DVSA wrote to stakeholders reiterating the rigorous risk assessment process with had taken place, alongside the biggest trial ever to happen in UK driver testing. Internal and External risk assessments (carried out by Rospa) were also published. PCS were consulted in the risk assessment process.
DVSA chief executive Gareth Llewellyn 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 three years the changes – which are welcomes 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.”
Carly Brookfield, DIA Chief Executive also commented: "It is disappointing to see PCS seeking to undermine the launch of the new test to score points in their wider dispute with DVSA, more so than out of genuine concern about the validity of the test changes.
"PCS (alongside wider immediate stakeholder bodies) were involved heavily in the trial and consultation process, originally signalled their support for the proposed development and were given ample opportunity to discuss concerns in that crucial consultation period.
"Little thought has clearly been given to the impact of industrial action on ADIs and pupils who have been working very hard to ensure that they are properly prepared for the new test with the view to it being a safe and successful start their driving career, who are also the paying customer for those test services and who may be financially impacted as a result."
Advice for ADIs and Candidates
For tests taking place on December 4th or 5th (when strikes will occur)
You can either:
change your test appointment to a later date
turn up for your test as planned, but your examiner might be unavailable
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is doing all it can to make sure that tests go ahead as planned. Not all examiners are union members, and DVSA expects most driving test centres to operate as normal. You should turn up for your test as planned.
Changing your driving test date
You can change your test to another date if you want to.
You must give at least 3 clear working days’ notice to change your test date or you’ll have to pay again.
If your driving test is cancelled
DVSA will book a new test appointment for you automatically if there’s no examiner available for your test.
You’ll be rebooked for the earliest available date, and DVSA will send you the details of the new appointment.
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 aren’t affected by the strike action and will be taking place as planned.