Drivers told to expect delays as DVLA staff strike over Covid safety fears

Union takes action over staff numbers at agency’s Swansea offices

Monday, 3rd May 2021, 12:00 pm
DVLA manages everything from driving licences to car tax

Workers at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) are to stage a four-day strike in a dispute over Covid-related safety at the agency’s Swansea office.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will start four days of industrial action from Tuesday, 4 May amid accusations that staff have been made to work in unsafe conditions.

The union said it was taking action after negotiations over the number of staff working at the site each day failed.

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The PCS has said that 2,000 people a day go into the offices despite staff’s concerns over safety procedures after a Covid outbreak at the centre last December. It has called for this be to reduced to hundreds and for vulnerable staff to be allowed to work from home. The DVLA says it has followed all Welsh Government advice on safe working and warned that the action will affect motorists.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said that “unreasonable and crass” behaviour by DVLA management had led to the strike going ahead.

He added: "DVLA and ministers need to understand the levels of fear, anger and determination within the workplace and that our union will support staff every step of the way in their fight for a just settlement."

A DVLA spokesman said it was disappointing the PCS was continuing with the action, adding that Covid cases among its staff remained very low.

He said: "DVLA has ensured that it has followed Welsh Government guidance at every single point throughout the pandemic having consistently worked with Public Health Wales, Environmental Health and Swansea Bay Health Board to introduce a wide range of safety measures.

"This has enabled DVLA staff to continue to deliver essential services to the public right across the UK in a Covid-19 secure way.

"DVLA's online services will operate as normal during this period of strike action and we advise customers to use those wherever possible.

"Those posting paper applications to DVLA or trying to reach our contact centre are likely to experience delays."

How will the DVLA strike affect drivers?

The DVLA is responsible for overseeing many of the day-to-day operations that affect drivers and handles around one million calls to its Swansea HQ every month.

It has warned that the latest strike could affect its ability to handle phone enquiries and the processing of postal application, urging drivers to use its online services instead.

Among the key matters the agency handles are vehicle ownership and logbooks (V5C certificates), issuing 18 million a year.

It also handles all aspects of driving licences, car tax and manages private registration plates.

The first lockdown saw a significant reduction in the agency’s operations. The DVLA has previously warned that it is currently taking six to eight weeks to process documents but many motorists have complained on social media of waiting months for paperwork to be processed. In an effort to ease pressure it has been encouraging drivers to use online services for matters such as renewing licences, changing addresses and informing the DVLA that you’ve sold a vehicle.