DVLA employees went on strike after becoming increasingly fearful of the current Covid-19 pandemic. The strike totalled 4 days. The union has chosen to be extremely direct with their negotiations, claiming that those primarily affected are operational staff without the option to work from home. The main problem identified by the union was the high volume of workers present on site every day. As the number of coronavirus cases continues to skyrocket throughout the world, areas densely packed with humans are considered breeding grounds for the virus, and the union saw things no differently. The union has demanded an immediate reduction in the number of onsite operational staff, threatening further strike and labour union action.
This recent fear is not without prior incidence, as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency office was previously caught in a covid-19 outbreak, however the company claims the situation was adequately dealt with after employing a variety of health guidelines meant to ensure the safety of staff members. These strikes are now affecting the company itself, although the online channels are still open, paper mail and call centre service have been severely slowed down.
Despite this, many in the union claim that the company has not made any progress, saying that industrial action will be necessary for the dialogue between workers and employers to continue properly. These workers are fearful concerning their workplace safety, they are ready to force their hand with industrial actions as never before seen in the company’s history.
Spokesperson from HGVT said “This is a devastating news for the car driver and HGV training industry. We have been waiting for the lockdown to be lifted for almost a year now and just when it was about to open on and test dates were suppose to be released we get this news.”
Others have been quick to criticize the Welsh government on even allowing the DVLA office to remain open at the expense of worker safety. A reply to this has been how the DVLA’s response to the coronavirus outbreak is in line with the Welsh Governments guidelines, meaning that they have done everything that the government mandates be done to ensure the virus does not spread further.
A consistent back and forth dialogue has been created between the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the trade union responsible for the representation of the workers. This conversation has helped bring the needs of the workers to the forefront, placing emphasis on how they are civil servants employed by the government, who have to go this far to campaign for their safety at work.
The entire situation has had multiple media outlets trying to find unique angles or perspective. The majority opinion remains the same, that the choice of the workers to protest through strike is entirely legitimate in the face of prevailing circumstances, as the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency has not managed to cater to workplace safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
Although it is an essential service that must ideally remain unaffected by lockdown policies, the DVLA will eventually have to cease all operations unless decisive action is made to help ensure worker safety. A reduction of total operational staff on site at any given moment is likely to be the only potential solution.
As it stands, this deadlock between the DLVA and its employees is likely only be resolved in face of a significant improvement in worker safety conditions, as the union has demonstrated no hesitation in pursuing further industrial action if required.