The chance of industrial action being taken by DVSA vehicle testing staff has risen sharply, after formal talks about the introduction of new contracts for testing staff as a result of the move to Next Generation Testing (NGT) came to an end without resolution.

Prospect negotiations officer Helen Stevens confirmed last week that the latest round of negotiation with the government had ended without settlement. “The formal negotiations have broken down and the unions have given notice that we intend to ballot on industrial action,” she told MT.

Stevens said the DVSA's proposals for testing staff under NGT – which extends the times during which authorised testing facilities can call on their services and reduces the overtime payments they could claim – would see some staff being "significantly worse off”.

The DVSA and Prospect have been at odds over the new NGT contract for months.

Back in late May, a three-hour strike was called off just days before it was due to take place after the agency and the union agreed to a further series of talks.

A fresh ballot on industrial action will be concluded before the middle of November, said Stevens. “All the feedback we are getting is that members are extremely angry about what is going on so we’ll see what the ballot produces,” she said.

Commenting on the development, DVSA chief executive Paul Satoor said it was "disappointing" a new ballot was to take place but added: “In the event of any industrial action we will put contingencies in place to ensure we can continue delivering the best possible service to our customers”.

Stephen Smith, president of the ATF Operators Association, told MT he remained very concerned about the possibility of industrial action by DVSA test staff, upon whom authorised testing facility (ATF) operators are obliged to depend for the provision of their testing services to customers.

Smith said he was also concerned by the fact that the DVSA had not kept ATF operators informed about the position.  "It's frustrating, because as an 'equal' partner we are always in the dark over such absolutely critical issues," he said.