Northern Ireland MoT staff set to strike as part of civil service action
Staff at Northern Ireland's MoT centres are set to go on strike later this month as part of wider civil service action.
NIPSA has confirmed that MoT centre staff will take part in the action on July 26.
The strike action comes after it emerged last month that drivers were facing waits of up to 47 days after an increase of around 15,000 applications for tests in the first three months of this year.
NIPSA has said that while staff at MoT centres would normally be excused from strike action they will take part this time in an attempt to secure better pay and working conditions.
Members voted 68.5% in favour of strike action, with 85.9% of members in favour of taking industrial action short of a strike.
NIPSA Deputy General Secretary Carmel Gates said that staff had been doing their best to help the backlog issue at MoT centres.
"In previous years we would have taken them out of selective strike action but this action on the 26 does include them," she told the News Letter.
"We know that part of this backlog has arisen because we simply don't have capacity at these testing centres.
"They've taken on more staff temporarily and they're working every hour they can, but some of these guys doing this job are often working second jobs to try and make ends meet. They're living on tax credits, they're living on credit-card debt.
"While they're key workers at the coal face, they-re not making enough to make ends meat. Too often members are attacked for a service not being there but these workers have done their utmost to get through this."
Mrs Gates said that pay for not the only reason for the strike action.
"This is about more than pay, about more than the below inflation pay offer, it's about changes to terms and conditions and the fact that we've had promotion prospects reduced because the civil service has gone to external recruitment for posts that would normally be available to our members via internal promotion."
Many drivers have been left potentially at risk of breaking the law by driving without a valid vehicle certificate due to being unable to secure an MoT appointment because of the backlog.
The Belfast Telegraph previously reported DfI had confirmed there would be no leniency for those drivers who had been unable to secure a test in time.
It said additional Sunday appointments that would be running over the summer, alongside an increase in the recruitment of staff at centres.
The Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) opened a number of test centres on Sunday, June 16, and Sunday, June 23, and said it had tested over 2,500 vehicles.
The Department for Infrastructure have been approached for comment on the strike.
Belfast Telegraph Digital