Pressure is mounting on the DVSA management to return to the negotiating table with a second union pledging to escalate strike action across DVSA centres this week.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has announced plans for a rolling programme of regional strikes, following a two day strike last week.

The PCS, which represents 1600 members across 350 DVSA sites, is asking its members to take a total of two days action across four days of strikes nationwide.

The dispute centres on DVSA plans to extend the working day and increase the number of driving tests (including for HGVs) examiners carry out. The union is also demanding a full review of staffing.

The PCS’s decision to escalate action closely follows a similar decision last week by Prospect union members to escalate their dispute with DVSA management over pay, terms and conditions by holding all-day strikes every Friday, alongside work to rule action.

The PCS argues that the DVSA’s plans to extend the working day and the number of tests taken each day breach legislation on conducting elements of the test in "good daylight".

In a statement the union said: “We have called on the agency to conduct thorough research before making any changes, including into the physical and psychological effects of more tests and their likely impact on safety.

"We are also demanding a full review of staffing given DVSA has previously admitted it is 350 posts short.”

The union said the escalation had been prompted in part by intimidation of its members by DVSA managers.

The PCS said: “This week the employer has ramped up attacks on staff. As part of the dispute members were asked to take action short of strike, including a work to rule and overtime ban, until it is resolved.

"DVSA is now threatening to dock members' pay and even send them home every time they follow the work to rule. Given this threat it is now clear that our action must be escalated.”

DVSA reponded to this point stating: "We are doing everything we can to minimise any disruption to customers. This includes following standard policies to ensure that staff meet the obligations of their contracts."

The PCS strike ballot saw 91% of members vote for strikes and 97% for non-strike industrial action on a 65% turnout.

Strike action

PCS strike action will begin on Tuesday (1 December) with a series of rolling one day strikes across regional centres, culminating in an all day strike on Friday of all PCS operational grade members employed by DVSA in England, Scotland and Wales.

The union said the action will include driving examiners, local driving test managers, vehicle standards assessors, vehicle inspectors, traffic examiners, senior traffic examiners, enforcement support officers, vehicle examiners, specialist vehicle standards assessors, technical team leaders, and area manager

DVSA said strike action had had little impact on its operations so far, with Prospect’s strike action on Friday affecting only nine of 319 centres.

A DVSA spokesman added: “We don't expect the action by PCS to have an impact on vehicle testing and enforcement.”

Referring to claims of staff shortages of up to 350 posts the spokesman said that DVSA is short of “around 88 staff” with recruitment underway for “most of these vacancies”.

"The new contract meets all relevant legislation and we are very clear that there will be no negative impact on road safety."

DVSA has repeatedly stated that its staff signed up to a new standard employment contract in April 2014 in exchange for a lump-sum payment and a three-year pay deal. The pay deal included transitional arrangements that came to an end on 1 November 2015. "It is now disappointing that the trade unions have now chosen to oppose the contract they agreed in 2014," the agency has said.