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IT workers at the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have kicked off a month-long strike over poor working conditions.
According to the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, IT staff are being made to stay at work longer than necessary due to changes in terms over working practices such as flexible working without prior consultation from management.
The workers state that their strike, which is taking place in Swansea and Nottingham, will affect the maintenance of IT systems at the DVSA, which are used to book and allocate tests, incident management and training of new staff.
The union’s claims are being played down by the DVSA, with the agency stating that its IT workload would not be affected and that contingency measures had been taken to ensure that was not the case.
The industrial action is seen by the DVSA as “unnecessary”, as only 11 members of staff out of the 68-strong IT function are striking. The employees striking are not at risk of redundancy, the agency added, and no disciplinary action will be taken against them.
The dispute between the agency and staff has been ongoing for three years and members have had enough, according to PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka. “For anyone to take strike action is courageous, but for members to take four weeks of action shows the strength of feeling amongst staff,” he said.
Senior management at the DVSA and the Department for Transport “must understand that potentially hundreds of workers could walk out in the coming months if they don’t get what they deserve”, .
“Our members want a negotiated settlement, but are quite prepared to escalate strike action going forward,” he warned.
The walkout of IT staff relates to ongoing issues at the DVSA. According to the PCS union, complaints over instances of bullying and harassment within the agency are becoming commonplace, with 20% of staff reporting such occurrences over the past 12 months. The agency declined to comment on these issues.