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Health Swansea West Wales

DVLA staff strike over ‘Covid fears’ at Swansea headquarters

MANY staff members at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Swansea have this week (Apr 6) started a four-day strike on Tuesday in a row over COVID-related safety.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) – most of its members work in UK Government departments or at other public bodies – at the site in Swansea are to walk out until Friday after talks didn’t resolve the dispute.

The union has said that the strike will include operational staff who have not been working remotely amid the pandemic.

Elsewhere, the publication reported that further industrial action is threatened if management do not make the safety improvements that the union is demanding.

This is said to include reducing the number of employees working at the site.

The PCS explained that progress had been made in talks yet it said that the lack of swift moves to reduce the numbers on site means that the strike will go ahead.

The publication reported that agreement had been reached on taking out more than 300 desks, revising risk assessments – which has resulted in a further 300 staff members being sent home – as well as a commitment regarding how to proceed in talks going forwards.

Commenting on this, PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “That PCS members are prepared to take unprecedented strike action shows just how badly DVLA management have failed in their responsibility to keep staff safe.

“No civil servant should have to go on strike to guarantee their safety at work.

“It is inconceivable that this Government is allowing [DVLA] to risk the lives of its staff by forcing them into a workplace that is so clearly not safe.

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We call on the DVLA and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to enter into meaningful negotiations with the union, as we are determined to only send our members back into DVLA when the workplace is safe again,” Serwotka added.

Following this news, a DVLA Spokesman said: “DVLA has followed and implemented Welsh Government guidance at every single point throughout the pandemic as we work to deliver our essential services.”

A DVLA spokesman told Herald.Wales: “The safety of our staff is paramount and we have continuously adapted our measures over the past year and will continue to do so.

“There is currently not a single member of staff in the 10 day isolation period, out of a workforce of more than 6,000.”

He added the agency had “consistently worked with Public Health Wales, environmental health and Swansea Bay Health Board to introduce a wide range of safety measures”.