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Minister scuppered deal to settle DVLA dispute, MPs hear

TRANSPORT minister Baroness Vere scuppered a deal that would have ended an industrial dispute over Covid safety at the DVLA — and then misrepresented it to MPs, the PCS union said today.

The roads, buses and places minister admitted to the transport select committee on Wednesday that she had refused to sign off an agreement negotiated with officials in June.

Workers have been taking strike action since March over the agency’s failure to agree measures to protect staff, resulting in a backlog of 1.4 million cases, including driving licence applications.

Accusing PCS of holding the agency to ransom, Ms Veer told the committee that the dispute could be settled “if they took requests for holiday and bonuses off the table.”

But PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka argued that “recognition and respite” clauses in the deal had been put there by management, not the union.

Mr Serwotka said: “It is disgraceful for … Baroness Vere to grossly misrepresent the deal that was agreed in principle to resolve the DVLA dispute in June.   

“Instead of trying to rewrite history and slander PCS, ministers need to put that deal back on the table so this industrial dispute can come to an end.”

The committee’s chairman, Tory MP Huw Merriman, put it to the minister that “there was an agreement reached in principle but it was not palatable for the wider politics.” 

Mr Serwotka told the committee that there had been 643 Covid cases and one fatality at the agency during the pandemic.

PCS branch chairwoman Sarah Evans said that staff worried by the rising number of cases had been told not to complain, and that “weeks and weeks of productivity have been lost by stopping staff working from home.”

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