Dave Warren, former DVLA worker and Swansea and West Wales Socialist Party
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) branch of PCS has voted for industrial action against management’s failure to provide a safe working environment.
During the first lockdown, only 250 essential staff out of the 5,000-strong workforce were required to physically go into the workplace, but since September over 2,000 workers have had to go in every day. Little wonder that there have been over 500 Covid cases since September, including a horrific outbreak at the contact centre in December. This was the worst outbreak anywhere in the civil service.
The 71.6% vote for a strike and 76.9% for action short of a strike on a 50.3% turnout was a significant achievement considering that we are now three months on from the outbreak in the contact centre and members working from home with less incentive to vote were included in the ballot. This is down to the hard work of local activists, but it also shows how bad conditions at DVLA still are.
DVLA management will have been rocked by this result and might be tempted to offer minor concessions, but PCS members will not be satisfied with gestures. They will want significant changes to protect their health and safety, particularly a major reduction in the numbers attending work. Only those who are absolutely essential and cannot work from home should be required to attend. The obvious anger and strength of members must now be harnessed to achieve this goal.