DRIVING tests in Dorset could be disrupted due to a row over conditions.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union in the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency are to go on strike for 48 hours.

The action is from Monday, December 4 – the day the new driving test is launched –ending at midnight on December 5.

This follows the 'action short of a strike' which began last week in a dispute over the new driving test and also working patterns. This could also affect tests as some examiners are not working overtime.

A picket line will be set up outside the Dorchester centre next week.

The union is taking the action to try and protect terms and conditions from an attack which it says would make members earn five days pay for six days work.

The union says DVSA has withdrawn overtime from striking workers and also imposed leave schedules meaning that an even greater backlog of thousands of tests is inevitable due to the imposed reductions in service.

The strike action across the DVSA will see up to 14,000 driving tests cancelled nationwide on the day the new driving test is launched.

Other effects of the action include reduced roadside checks on vehicles, reduced enforcement checks on lorries and other vehicles coming into the UK and a significant reduction of tachograph testing.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “PCS members in the DVSA have tried to negotiate around their concerns but the door has been slammed shut in their face. They now feel they have no alternative but to take industrial action to bring home to the public how damaging the DVSA proposals are. No one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test but the Government could avoid this strike even now at the eleventh hour by agreeing to serious talks and withdrawing their most damaging proposals. I have written to the Transport Minister Chris Grayling urging him to intervene.”

The government says the changes to the driving test are designed to make sure new drivers have the skills they’ll need to help them through a lifetime of safe driving.

The changes include the independent driving part of the test will increase to 20 minutes, candidates being asked to follow directions from a sat nav, a change in reversing manoeuvres, and changes to answering vehicle safety questions.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency says not all driving examiners are union members, and even if they are, they might choose not to take industrial action.

People due to take their test can either change their test appointment to a later date, or turn up as planned but be prepared that their examiner might not be available.