Authorised testing facilities (ATFs) could still be left without vehicle test staff as a result of industrial action if talks taking place on Monday 8 June between union Prospect and DVSA chief executive Alastair Peoples do not go well.

The union and the government agency are meeting next week to discuss concerns among HGV testing staff employed by the DVSA about the new contracts they are being asked to sign in relation to the introduction of Next Generation Testing (NGT) – the new regime being rolled out across the UK that extends the times during which private testing facilities can call on DVSA testing staff.

Around 550 Prospect members – including test staff and enforcement staff – were set to strike on 26 May over concerns about the requirements of the new contracts but the strike was suspended after the DVSA suddenly agreed to a series of meetings with the union.

Prospect negotiations officer Helen Stevens told that an initial informal meeting with DVSA human resources personnel on 1 June had been “positive” and she hoped the matter could now be resolved.

“We’ve been waiting for these negotiations with DVSA management for two years and we’re glad that at last, management have come to the table,” she said.

ATF operators, however, have expressed anger that the DVSA did not alert them to last month’s planned strike.

“Whether or not the strike happened is academic – the point is the DVSA didn’t tell us,” said ATF Operators Association president Stephen Smith. “We’re at the end of the stick here and would have had to deal with the fallout and there wasn’t any kind of dialogue to let us know.

“It’s very worrying because [as an ATF operator] I’ve got not control over the business I’m running – it’s all down to [the test staff]the DVSA can supply me with,” he added. “There are three stakeholders here – the unions, the employer and us, the people who deliver the service and supply the property and assets.  And we’re just being left out – that’s what we’re really angry about.”

Should industrial action eventually proceed, warned  Smith, it could be tricky for ATFs to reorganise failed tests, given the difficulties of booking extra test slots with the DVSA at short notice.

The DVSA has declined to tell MT what percentage of its testing staff are members of the union and what percentage have so far signed up to the new NGT contract.

  • An extraordinary meeting of the ATFAO will take place on Wednesday 24 June 2015 from 08:30 to 12:30 at Leicester City Football Club, King Stadium.