Belfast Telegraph

Strike action means drivers face further delays getting MOT

 

Drivers could face further delays for their vehicle tests with confirmation that MOT centre staff are to go on strike later this month
Drivers could face further delays for their vehicle tests with confirmation that MOT centre staff are to go on strike later this month
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Drivers could face further delays for their vehicle tests with confirmation that MOT centre staff are to go on strike later this month.

Trade union Nipsa confirmed that MOT centre staff will take part in the industrial action - which is part of wider Civil Service action - on July 26.

Nipsa said that while staff at MOT centres would normally be excused from strike action, they will take part this time in a walkout aimed at securing better pay and working conditions.

Members voted 68.5% in favour of strike action, with 85.9% in favour of taking industrial action short of a strike.

Nipsa deputy general secretary Carmel Gates said that members were "very angry" at the lack of pay increases.

"Our members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the action and I am hopeful that those who voted against it will respect the result and strike," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

She said members were unhappy that positions which are traditionally set aside for internal promotions were now being advertised externally.

Mrs Gates said that the Civil Service had shed a large number of staff in recent years due to budget cuts without the workload lessening.

"We have seen a large amount of people leaving and now that we need more staff they are being replaced by people without the required experience. Sometimes they are straight out of university," she added.

"We have kept the country running for the last two years since Stormont fell and have seen workloads increase but there has been nothing to show for it."

The Department for Infrastructure declined to speculate on the impact of any action and urged customers who have booked a MOT appointment for July 26 to attend.

The strike comes after it emerged that drivers were facing waits of up to 47 days due to an increase of around 15,000 applications for tests in the first three months of this year.

Many drivers have been left 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.

Similar delays were felt here in 2004 when staff at MOT centres took part in industrial action.

But the impact was softened by exemption letters issued to drivers who had an appointment, allowing them to use their vehicles in the interim period.

The Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) has opened some test centres for additional Sunday appointments that will be running over the summer, alongside an increase in the recruitment of staff at centres.

Earlier this week it emerged that more than 2,000 people here failed to turn up for their MOTs last month.

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