300 driving tests cancelled because of planned strike

Union says further stoppages could follow if dispute not resolved

Driver testers are to stage a half day strike from 2pm on Wednesday April 2nd in a dispute over outsourcing.

Driver testers are to stage a half day strike from 2pm on Wednesday April 2nd in a dispute over outsourcing.

Tue, Mar 25, 2014, 12:52

About 300 people who are scheduled to undergo driving tests next week will have them cancelled by a planned strike by driver testers.

Driver testers, who are represented by the trade union Impact, are to stage a half-day strike from 2pm on Wednesday April 2nd in a dispute over outsourcing.

Impact said that further stoppages could follow if the dispute was not resolved.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA)said that anyone who was due to have a driving test next Wednesday afternoon would have it re-scheduled at no cost as quickly as possible.

Impact said the dispute centred on proposals by RSA management to outsource testing in breach of a Labour Court ruling which recommended the recruitment of a reserve body of qualified testers to avert any possible backlog in test applications.

Impact official Denis Rohan said management had since ignored the Labour Court-recommended process and instead moved to engage subcontractors instead of recruiting reserve staff. He said management had breached its agreement with staff and had since refused to talk to the union about the issue.

The union said that a subsequent Labour Court recommendation in January this year was rejected by driver testers.

Mr Rohan said that this was because the recommendation made no provision for talks on outsourcing arrangements.

The RSA said in accordance with numerous recommendations and rulings by the Labour Relations Commission it had established a panel of five reserve driver testers to assist in reducing the impact of short-notice sick leave absences on customers and to continue to deliver a high quality service.

It said this service would only be drawn down if required, in order to minimise any disruption that sick leave or absences causes to customers, and to ensure that waiting times of less than 10 weeks for a driving test continued to be met.

It said that in 2012, a total of 11,880 driving tests were not conducted due to sick leave taken by driver testers. It said 8,200 of these tests were not covered from spare capacity and as a result, the RSA had to reschedule the affected candidates’ tests, free of charge, at a cost of €697,000 to the Authority.

The RSA stressed it was not replacing any substantive post with these reserve testers but supplementing the service to allow for sickness absence and training activities in order to deliver an improved level of service to the public.

“The RSA is extremely disappointed with the stance taken by Impact as the Public Service (Croke Park) agreement 2010-2014 states that the findings of the industrial relations dispute mechanism are binding. It also states that trade unions are precluded from taking industrial action when the employer is acting under the remit of the Public Service Agreement.”

“Furthermore, contrary to the statement issued by Impact, the Road Safety Authority’s actions are fully compliant with Labour Court findings, specifically recommendation LCR 20309 (May 2012); and the Labour Court recommendation LCR20681 (Dec 2013) as subsequently clarified and reinforced in January 2014”, it said.

Mr Rohan said management’s outsourcing proposals could also breach the RSAs own safety standards as it was not insisting that subcontractors hold the HETAC driver-tester qualification, which is a requirement for all RSA testers.

“We regret the inevitable inconvenience that will now follow management’s decision to ignore our concerns on outsourcing and the breach of agreement with staff. We have decided on a relatively short stoppage to limit the inconvenience, but the staff concerned feel they have been forced into this action because management is refusing to deal with the issue,” he said.

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