A strike scheduled to take place next week by HGV testers working for the DVSA has been suspended after the government agency agreed to a series of meetings with union Prospect.

The industrial action, planned to take place over three hours next Tuesday (26 May), was scheduled  after concerns about new contracts for testing staff as a result of the introduction of Next Generation Testing (NGT) – the new testing regime being rolled out across the UK that extends the times during which private testing facilities can call on DVSA testing staff.

In a letter to DVSA chief executive Alastair Peoples on 15 May, Prospect negotiations officer Helen Stevens said NGT was “being used to force staff to swallow new contracts with different terms and conditions without any negotiation”.

She added: “DVSA management has repeatedly refused to meet  with Prospect reps or DVSA staff to discuss the matter”.

The union also suggested that  it was “apparent the roll-out of NGT isn’t working”, claiming that as not enough people had been attracted by the new contract, the DVSA was having to recruit new staff while simultaneously putting existing ones at risk of redundancy.

“We fail to understand how it could be acceptable for DVSA to contemplate wasting money on severances, when there is testing work to do and being done by existing staff, and why DVSA does not want to retain its experienced specialist staff,” added Stevens.

Following a meeting on 19 May which led to an agreement to hold a series of discussions from 1 June, however, the union has suspended the strike.

In a joint statement issued alongside the suspension, the two sides said they were “committed to using their best endeavours” towards the goal of achieving agreement.

Speaking just before news of the suspension of industrial action emerged, Stephen Smith, president of the ATF Operators Association, said the planned strike would be “absolutely disabling” for ATFs and for vehicle operators depending on tests booked on the day.