DVLA bosses and employees conflict over Covid security and HGV licence delays | Provide chain disaster

When the letter from the UK authorities dropped by Antony Crowther’s letter field this week, the frustration that had been constructing for months turned to rage.

Signed by the transport minister Charlotte Vere, the letter informed him his “helpful abilities and expertise” as a HGV driver had by no means been extra wanted. Would he please think about getting behind the wheel once more?

That’s precisely what Crowther desires to do however can’t as a result of his software to get his licence again after a medical emergency is snarled up in a backlog on the DVLA – the Driver and Automobile Licensing Company – in Swansea, south Wales.

“I’ve spent so many hours attempting to get by to the DVLA and the transport division to type my licence out,” mentioned Crowther, 61, from Plymouth. “I need to do my bit and assist out. Sure, the cash is available in helpful but it surely’s not nearly that. I prefer to really feel I’m serving to by getting stuff transferring across the nation.”

As the dimensions of the disaster on the DVLA emerged this week, a row has damaged out over who’s in charge. Employees and their union representatives declare mismanagement in the course of the Covid pandemic on the DVLA has led to the issues. The federal government and the DVLA blame employees who’ve been on strike over their working circumstances.

It may worsen. Covid instances proceed to blight the DVLA, an govt company of the Division for Transport (DfT), and extra industrial motion could also be on the way in which this autumn and winter.

The letter despatched to Antony Crowther. {Photograph}: Jim Wileman/The Guardian

Crowther is likely one of the many twiddling their thumbs when they’re determined to be at work. He suffered a collection of cardiac arrests in Might however had a pacemaker fitted and 5 weeks later his docs mentioned he was match to drive once more.

He set about attempting to get his licence again and knowledgeable the DVLA. A letter finally got here again saying that the company’s physician was contemplating his case. After which nothing extra.

This week the DfT admitted in response to a parliamentary query that there have been 56,144 purposes for vocational driving licences – for lorry and bus drivers – awaiting processing. It mentioned of those, about 4,000 have been for provisional licences, whereas the “overwhelming majority” have been for renewals. Generally, drivers may proceed to drive whereas the applying was being processed.

The DVLA mentioned provisional licences have been being issued in about 5 days however conceded that “extra advanced transactions”, for instance if medical investigations have been wanted, might face “longer delays.”

DVLA and authorities sources prompt the issue was, at the very least partly, all the way down to strikes by members of the Public and Industrial Companies Union (PCS). The PCS mentioned the federal government had scuppered a deal it had agreed with DVLA managers, which might have halted the economic motion – so the backlog was all the way down to ministers.

The issues on the DVLA have been laid naked at conferences of the transport committee in Westminster in January and July.

Union officers informed committee members that when Covid first struck, employees have been despatched residence however didn’t have the know-how to do their jobs – and so they weren’t trusted by their managers to work remotely.

Then, the union says, employees have been ordered again in too rapidly to attempt to clear the backlog, earlier than their workplaces have been Covid-safe.

It resulted in “the one greatest Covid outbreak of any office within the UK”, in response to the union’s common secretary, Mark Serwotka. By that time there had been 643 Covid instances and one loss of life.

Sarah Evans, a union official on the DVLA, informed the committee that “huge security issues” remained. She claimed too many individuals have been sharing too many amenities, corresponding to lifts, kitchens and bogs.

There have been a collection of strikes over circumstances in the course of the summer season however the PCS says the DVLA is not any additional ahead in prioritising employees security and no higher ready for waves of the virus over the winter and autumn. Covid instances proceed to rise, with the union claiming there have been an extra 152 instances in September and that the working whole is now at 874.

The DVLA insists circumstances are protected and that it’s not doable for employees processing vocational licences to work at home as they’ve to assist take care of the 60,000 objects of mail it receives daily.

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