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Gillingham driving tests cancelled as examiners go on strike

By Amy Nickalls

Changes to contracts and unsafe tests have forced driving test examiners to take to the picket line.

Negotiations between the employers and the driver and vehicle standards agency have been ongoing for two years since the terms and conditions of the modern employment contract changed.

But talks over the final few points have stopped and the examiners are striking today, on the day the new test is introduced, in hope to get things moving again.

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Examiners and union officers at the test centre on Courtney Road

Examiners and union officers at the test centre on Courtney Road

Nigel Rawlins, 54, who is an examiner at the test centre in Gillingham, he said: “I wouldn’t say we’re angry, it’s infuriating that it’s taken two years to negotiate this.

“When we get sent to other centres to do detached duties we are now expected to travel in our own time which means we are no longer covered for injury or paid at half rate like we once were.

“It’s got to the point where nothing is happening.

“There is also the added pressure of the new test coming out which takes longer but that hasn’t been taken into account.

“We’re working longer and have additional travel time and they are moving our benefits. We’re in a lose- lose situation.”

The workers were supported by industrial officers from Public Commercial Services union, who have been representing employee’s views at the negotiations table.

Nigel Rawlins is striking today over terms and conditions in examiners contracts.

Nigel Rawlins is striking today over terms and conditions in examiners contracts.

Brian Shaw, PCS industrial officer, said: “It’s been a well supported strike action with 84% of members voting in favour with a 70% turnout.

“We’re hoping the employer will come back to us, start talking and work out an agreement. We called for that last week and said we would suspend the strike action but they didn’t come back to us.

“It’s key they listen to their own workers and come back to the negotiating table.

“We’ve got to a point where we’ve agreed with alot of stuff and these are the final few areas they aren’t willing to negotiate around and they are key to a final agreement we need to make sure they come back to the table and take their workers seriously.”

This is linked to the new test, introduced today, which many examiners say is dangerous and the proper health and safety checks have not been carried out.

Brian Shaw PCS industrial officer

Brian Shaw PCS industrial officer

They also take longer to complete so, according to Mr Rawlins, examiners will have to work longer hours.

Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA Chief Executive, said: “PCS’s pointless industrial action - over an employment contract they convinced their members to overwhelmingly accept 3 years ago - will not be understood by our customers.

“We have made PCS an improved offer to the one they accepted, but the union is deliberately misleading its members by claiming the better offer we have put to them requires staff to work longer for less, when it does precisely the opposite.

“PCS’s shameful efforts to link the dispute to the new driving test in an attempt to broaden support for its unreasonable position shows a total disregard for learner drivers, who have worked so hard to be ready to take their test.”

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