Driving examiners in England, Wales and Scotland are beginning a 48-hour strike the day a new driving test is launched.The Public and Commercial Service (PCS) union has warned thousands of tests could be cancelled.The new test is coming in along with changes to working conditions, which the union says means employees will have to work longer and harder.The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said it expected the disruption from the strike to be “minimal”.The head of the DVSA, Gareth Llewellyn, said the union was “trying to undermine” the new test, adding it showed a “shameful disregard for both road safety and learner drivers who have worked so hard”.The DVSA employs around 1,800 driving examiners and conducts about 7,000 car driving tests on average a day.The PCS union said the new tests were being accompanied by a “flexible working” regime, which gives managers the ability to deploy driving test examiners anywhere they choose without notice. It said this could mean staff working six days a week, but only being paid for five.The DVSA said this was “simply not true”, adding that it had recruited more than 320 extra driving examiners in the past year. It said the new test offered a more realistic assessment of driving skills.
What’s new about the new test?There are four main changes: The independent driving part of the test will increase from 10 minutes to 20
During the independent driving part of the test, most candidates will be asked to follow directions from a sat nav
The reverse around a corner and turn-in-the-road (three-point turn) manoeuvres will no longer be tested. Candidates will be asked to do one of three possible reversing manoeuvres – either parallel parking at the side of the road, parking in a bay, or pulling up on the right-hand side of the road, reversing for two car lengths and rejoining the traffic
Candidates will have to answer two vehicle safety questions while driving
Flexible workingThe PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said his union had tried to negotiate: “No one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test.”The strike also involves vehicle inspectors employed by the DVSA, who are also facing changes to their working conditions. The PCS union said about 1,500 members across the two categories were taking part in the strike action.Lesley Young, the chief examiner of the DVSA, said there would be little disruption: “Most examiners are not in the union and those that are working today will take out a number of tests and we expect the disruption to be minimal.”PCS union members voted by 84% in favour of striking, on a 70% turnout.
Source: BBC News