DVLA strike 2023: when are PCS members striking, how will it affect medical applications and licence renewals?

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600 staff responsible for reviewing licence applications join 100,000 civil servants taking industrial action

Staff at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) have begun five days of strike action in a dispute over pay, job security and pensions.

Around 600 staff at the agency, which handles driving licences, vehicle tax and vehicle registrations, walked out on Monday 9 January as part of wider action by the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union.

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The staff going on strike at the Swansea and Birmingham offices assess people’s medical fitness to drive before granting them a licence. This means applications which require additional assessment are likely to be delayed further after the Covid-19 pandemic caused chaos in licence processing.

In the wake of the pandemic, the DVLA faced a massive backlog of driving licence applications, including renewals and those seeking medical approval. It says it has now tacked this backlog but, according to figures obtained by the i, in late 2022, the agency still had 300,000 licence applications outstanding, including 200,000 from people with medical conditions such as epilepsy and heart problems, which require additional approval.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This latest phase of our targeted and sustained strike action comes as the Government launches another attack on working people by introducing anti-union legislation. By trying to stop unions taking action – something we will fight strongly against – the Government is attacking the symptom, not the cause.

“The cause, in this case, is a government that has offered our members just a 2% pay rise at a time when inflation is over 10%.

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“It’s no wonder our members at DVLA are angry. They are keen to do their jobs, to serve the public, but are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis. They deserve, at very least, an above-inflation pay rise.”

A DVLA spokesperson said: “The quickest and easiest way to deal with DVLA is through our online services which, along with our contact centre, is operating as normal during this period of industrial action. It is very disappointing that PCS is incentivising union members by paying them to take part in action, and by targeting the Drivers Medical department they will negatively impact some of the most vulnerable people in society.”

The DVLA staff are among 100,000 civil servants taking part in a rolling programme of strikes organised by the PCS union. Driving examiners have also been on strike since December, while members working for the Border Force, Rural Payments Agency, Department for Work and Pensions and National Highways are also taking part in the action.

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