LABOUR joined calls for controversial new driving tests to be suspended yesterday as examiners launched a 48-hour strike.
The driving test examiners, who are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, mounted picket lines across Britain against the new tests which they claim force them to work longer and harder hours for no extra pay.
Shadow transport minister Rachael Maskell, who is MP for York, said: “It is appalling that Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency [DVSA] senior managers and ministers have allowed this dispute to escalate, meaning thousands of driving tests are having to be cancelled.
“Driving examiners have told me they have serious and genuine concerns about the safety of the new test and we support the PCS union’s call for it to be suspended to allow for further analysis.
“Instead of stoking disputes like this and demonising unions who raise concerns, the next Labour government will work with staff, their representatives and employers to protect working conditions while improving standards.”
PCS union said it was pleased with support for the strike, adding that tests were being cancelled or rescheduled.
General secretary Mark Serwotka said members have tried to negotiate with the DVSA but have had the door “slammed shut in their face.”
“They now feel they have no alternative but to take industrial action to bring home to the public how damaging the DVSA proposals are.
“No-one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test.”
The DVSA dismissed examiners’ concerns over the new tests.
DVSA director of people, communications and engagement Adrian Long said: “PCS’s desperate claim that changes to the driving test will cause examiners to work longer and harder is simply not true.
“In the last year we’ve recruited more than 320 extra driving examiners — reducing waiting times to an average of seven weeks across the country.”