Tuesday, 14 February 2012

No to DVLA office closures!

PCS union members working at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) are angry and frustrated at plans by the Con-Dem government to shut all 39 local offices by the end of 2013.

These offices are where members of the public can deal with vehicle registration and taxes and similar issues. Closure will mean a worse service at greater cost to the taxpayer - this cut is to prepare the service for privatisation.
In 2011 Brighton DVLA served 40,862 customers. Many of these had complex issues which required face to face contact with the DVLA. Telephone and internet services are not appropriate for the needs of a large volume of customers.
DVLA plans to close all it's Local Offices, Enforcement Centres and Central Processing Units. This will result in 1,200 job losses, and a grave reduction in the service offered to the public and the motor trade. This is against a backdrop of mass unemployment, attacks on pensions in both the public and private sector and privatisation.

According to the PCS website, "It is clear that the planned closure of the local office network is part of a much wider strategy involving the transition of DVLA services away from face to face and towards a digital service." These services would then be provided by other suppliers including private sector companies, and has been dubbed 'the mother of all outsourcing' by the union. The DVLA is planning £100 million of 'savings' a year by 2014/15 and an additional £100 million of savings after that!

A determined trade union campaign can win. Strike action co-ordinated where possible with other PCS and public and privatesector disputes will be crucial. The planned pension strike on March 28th is also an opportunity for PCS members in DVLA to highlight their campaign. Such a campaign, linked to the wider battle against pension 'reforms' and the cuts generally can defeat the government. But trade unionists need a political as well as workplace voice, one that is not provided by the Labour party. That is why the steps taken by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to build a new party of the working-class is crucial (see here).

Please view the consultation document here and send a response to consultations.cad@dvla.gsi.gov.uk before 20th March. After the consultation, if the government pushes ahead, the PCS will consider strike action against the plans.

Closure of DVLA offices will inevitably lead to:-

- No face to face contact with DVLA staff
- Public directed to distant call centres and computer workstations
- Long-standing and close links with the motor trade severed
- 1,200 job losses

30 people attended a lunchtime protest today 14/02/2012 outside Brighton DVLA offices. Many pages of the PCS petition against the closure and job losses were filled in by passers-by and DVLA users, and hundreds of leaflets were handed out.

One man commented "I'm against the closure. We need to keep people working and providing a face to face service." Another student commented, "There are one million young people unemployed, and the government is cutting jobs! This is 1,200 less jobs available to my generation if they close the offices."

Please visit www.savethedvla.co.uk for more info and sign the e-petition here.