Driving test examiners and staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will walk out on strike today over demands for better pay, jobs and conditions.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) in Liverpool and Doncaster who are employed by the DWP will take action from Monday (19 December) until Christmas Eve, and then again from 29 to 31 December. The union said Doncaster Benefits Centre and Toxteth Jobcentre have been chosen for the first wave of DWP action because they are earmarked for closure.
The strikes will affect driving test centres in different parts of Great Britain at different times, with northern parts of the country to be impacted on Monday. Driving examiners and local driving test managers working for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will take action across north-west England and Yorkshire and the Humber today in a programme of rolling regional action.
Walkouts on 28 to 31 December, and 3 January, will impact the east of England, East Midlands, West Midlands and parts of London, while further action from 4 to 10 January will affect London, south-east England, south-west England and Wales.
The strike action might affect:
- car driving tests
- motorcycle tests
- lorry, bus, coach and minibus driving tests (these are known as vocational tests)
- tractor or specialist vehicle driving tests
- approved driving instructor (ADI) part 2 (driving ability) or part 3 (instructional ability) tests
- ADI standards checks
- moped and motorcycle compulsory basic training (CBT) checks - but not the training courses themselves
Drivers taking a test with a private test provider will not be affected by the strike action, and theory tests will also not be impacted.
DVSA will automatically rebook driving tests if it cannot go ahead because of the strike action. Those who are affected will be sent the new details within five to 10 days, and do not need to contact DVSA.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The first week of our strikes has already caused disruption to farmers awaiting payments, learner drivers waiting to pass their tests and those using our roads – and it’s only going to get worse unless the government puts some money on the table. Our members carry our important jobs, keeping the country running, and deserve much more than the 2% pay rise they’ve been offered.”
Elsewhere, workers at National Highways will escalate action across England and Wales over the next few weeks, as will staff at Border Force, where workers will strike in six airports from 23 December.
Around 1,000 Border Force staff employed by the Home Office will walk out at London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow airports on 23 to 26 December, and 28 to 31 December. Members will also strike at the port of Newhaven on the same dates.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We greatly value the work of our staff but the PCS union’s demands would cost the country an unaffordable £2.4 billion when the focus must be on bringing down inflation to ease the burden on households, protect the vulnerable and rebuild our economy.
“Benefits, the state pension and child maintenance payments are paid automatically and people who rely on that support will continue to receive it.”