DVLA Private Car Registrations & Number plates office staff strike over 'pay gap'

Thousands of staff at the DVLA in Swansea are taking part in a UK-wide one day strike today in a dispute over pay. This has caused a considerable amount of inconvenience to people wanting to do number plate assignments and cherished transfers.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said there was a 16% pay gap compared to other Department for Transport (DfT) workers.

The union said it was costing the staff in Wales £13m a year and was "completely unacceptable".

The DVLA said its policy was to align pay rates to the local market. It hopes to minimise disruption to customers at the local DVLA offices, but a number of them were completely closed and a number offered a drop off only service with no counter activity available to the general public.

Three-quarters of the 4,500 DVLA staff work in Wales at the agency's h.q. in Swansea and they will be joined in the action by workers at DVLA offices in other parts of the country.

'Separate pay systems'

The union is also bringing test cases to an industrial tribunal under equal pay legislation.

Two-thirds of staff at the DVLA are women, while men make up the majority of workers in other parts of the DfT. This is primarily due to the clerical nature of the work at DVLA Swansea.

Preliminary hearings into the 38 test cases, comparing the pay of women officers at the DVLA with men in other parts of the DfT, will begin in September 2008.

Jeff Evans, PCS's Union officer for Wales said: "The existence of separate pay systems in the different agencies of the DfT is being used, by DVLA, quite cynically, to reduce the pay bill by paying people at inadequate rates where they can get away with it."

"A majority of staff in the DVLA - unlike DfT staff as a whole - are based in Wales, where economic conditions are already worse than other areas of the country, and lower pay rates are costing the Welsh economy £13 million every year," he added.

A spokesperson for the DVLA said: "There is a difference between DVLA and Department for Transport salaries at some grades, but it is DVLA's policy to align its pay rates to the local market in which it competes for staff. This also applies to the DVLA Local Office network where number plate transfers are completed.

"Maintaining a service to customers is a priority and the agency will ensure disruption to customer service is minimised.

"However, it is possible that some of our local offices may be closed or offering a restricted service. Our DVLA contact centre will also be offering a restricted service."

They advised customers to contact the DVLA on another day if possible, but this is hardly fair as the end of the month approaches and re-licensing is at it’s maximum.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: "Pay decisions are taken by each agency, like DVLA, in line with the public sector pay policy. They are best placed to make decisions based on skills, business needs and competitive pay rates."