Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 19, June 19, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Workers' Forum

DVLA Workers Back on Strike over Covid Safety

PCS report that a third round of strike action has begun in the Driving Vehicle Licensing Association (DVLA) Covid safety dispute, after employers withdrew a deal at the last minute.

According to ITV Wales, the deal would have offered employees a phased office re-opening, a £200 "recognition payment", and two days' additional leave.

PCS general secretary Mr Serwotka said: "Through painstaking negotiation, our union and DVLA senior management were on the verge of agreeing a deal only for it to be scuppered at the last minute.

"We strongly suspect senior ministers at the Department for Transport have interfered with the progress we were making and want to make some kind of ideological stand against PCS.

"They have grossly underestimated the resolve of our members in DVLA and have only emboldened them to take targeted and sustained action in the months ahead until they win.

"PCS is fully prepared for months of strike action, and we urge the Government to rethink its position."

Workers at the DVLA contact centre in the Clase area of Swansea voted for strike action after insufficient action by management to deal with what was labelled "the worst Covid workplace outbreak" in Britain, which began in September last year and was still ongoing in March. Some 2,000 people were still working in 16-floor building every day even during the peak of that outbreak; the demand of the workers and their union was that this be reduced to a few hundred at most. The union further demanded that all vulnerable workers be sent home, and given paid leave if unable to work from home.

The stand of the DVLA has been to coerce and pressure workers into giving up their action, asserting that the stand taken by the workers is not in the interests of society. "Any industrial action is likely to have a detrimental impact on motorists as we begin the first stages of the road map out of lockdown and the UK vaccination rollout programme is in full swing," claimed the management in March.

Workers have been active in rejecting any such pressure to silence them from speaking out and acting to defend their interests and the rights of all. It is by now abundantly clear that workplaces are a key factor in controlling the spread of Covid-19. It is crucial that society and the economy mobilise to protect the health of every individual. Further, working conditions should be determined by the workers who work in them. Workers should be central to decision-making.

(PCS, ITV Wales)


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