Driving instructors across the UK will walk out from mid-December in a dispute over pay, pensions and job security, beginning a wave of action by civil servants that’s set to affect 124 government departments, disrupting everything from passport checks to unemployment support.
Employees of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, including instructors, will strike on a regional basis from Dec. 13 through Jan. 16, the Public and Commercial Services union said Tuesday. Staff at the Rural Payments Agency, which provides subsidies to farmers, will do so from Dec. 13 through Jan. 13.
“This is the first wave of the hardest-hitting industrial action the government will have faced in decades and will cause a massive amount of disruption,” PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said.
Strikes have been disrupting Britain for months, affecting everything from postal deliveries and train operators to hospital nursing as wages fail to keep pace with high inflation. Some 100,000 PCS members voted overwhelmingly to authorize industrial action earlier this month.
In a separate development, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association said Tuesday that talks with the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operating companies, had broken down and that strikes are now being considered during December.
TSSA said “intensive talks” were into a fourth week and while progress was made on issues covering modernization, job security and ticket offices, the RDG claimed it had no government mandate to discuss pay.
Over 40,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers already plan to take action over several weeks, affecting travel in the run-up to Christmas and into the new year. The union says train companies and track owner Network Rail Ltd. failed to offer new deals on pay and jobs.