The public service sector trade union Fórsa has instructed its members who work as driving testers at the Road Safety Authority not to conduct tests in cases where the car involved does not have a valid NCT.
The move is an escalation of an ongoing dispute over the union’s call for the reinstatement of the pre-pandemic requirement that all cars in which a driving test is to be conducted have a valid NCT certificate.
The requirement was suspected due to Covid and has yet to be restored despite what Fórsa describes as a “serious health and safety concern for the union’s driver tester members”.
The union says that it has raised the issue a number of times with the Road Safety Authority, which oversees the NCT system, since November of last year and last week brought it up at a meeting of the State Agencies Oversight Body.
In the absence of a positive reaction to the call for the requirement to be reintroduced, however, it has now told the roughly 120 of 140 driving testers nationwide that it represents to no longer carry out tests in cars which do not have a valid NCT.
[ NCT free test review raises ‘serious questions’, Road Safety Authority told ]
In its letter issued to RSA management on Monday, Fórsa said the matter is a health and safty one as “the vehicle a customer presents for their test becomes the RSA staff member’s workplace”.
“The only way of ensuring that a vehicle is safe and roadworthy is when it has a valid NCT certificate,” wrote the union’s assistant general secretary Derek Kelleher.
“Instructing our members to only conduct a driving test in a vehicle with a valid NCT is a reasonably practicable way of increasing their safety at work, and aligns with the General Principles of Prevention within the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005,” he said.
It was not immediately clear if any tests were impacted on Monday.
In a statement, issued to The Irish Times on Monday, the RSA said it was disappointed with the Forsa action as it had agreed procedures with the union during the Covid related suspension of the requirement that driving test candidates present for the test in a car with a valid NCT.
The system, it said, allowed test candidates to use a car for a test if it did not have a valid NCT but where the driver had written confirmation of an upcoming test and where the previous cert had expired within 90 days.
It said it has “engaged extensively” with the union on the issue but it apologised to affected customers and said it would contact them to inform them they should present to do their test in a vehicle with a valid cert.
It said no driver impacted would lose their test fee. It said those who need to cancel their tests can do so at MyRoadSafety and cite “no availability” as the reason for the cancellation after which they will be sent an invitation to book a new appointment.
The issue of delays getting cars tested has attracted a great deal of attention recently with average waiting times reported to have been consistently running a just over double, around 26 days, the 12 day average which the service provider, Applus, is supposed to meet.
In response to a number of Dáil questions this month the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers, said that efforts to recruit additional staff have been ongoing and the hope is the 12 day average wait time can be restored by the end of June.