Driving examiners and coastguard officials to stage strikes

Coastguard helicopter (Pic: MCA)
Image caption The government says its changes to coastguard provision will modernise the service

Driving test examiners and coastguard officials are to take part in a series of two-hour strikes against cuts which they say will hit jobs and pensions.

A month of action by the Public and Commercial Services Union's Department for Transport (DfT) members will start on Friday with a walkout at Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency offices.

It will be followed by a two-hour strike by driving examiners on 8 June.

The DfT said contingency plans were in place to keep vital services running.

Staff at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) are planning a week of strikes later next month.

Further walkouts will also be held throughout June by staff at the Department for Transport head office and other bodies including the Highways Agency.

'Minimise disruption'

The PCS union said the planned closure of DVLA offices would "wipe out the high quality face-to-face services these offices provide to the public and motor traders".

The closure of eight of the UK's 18 coastguard stations would mean "the loss of life-saving local knowledge", it added.

General secretary Mark Serwotka said: "With unemployment high and our communities suffering as a result of the government's cuts, ministers should be providing all the help they can to local economies that are crying out for support and investment.

"Instead they're ploughing on with entirely unnecessary and unpopular cuts to vital transport services."

The DfT said it was "disappointed" at the decision to strike while it was still in discussions with the union.

The MCA said those striking would be staff responsible for co-ordinating rescues and "the rescuers themselves will continue to operate as normal".

Helicopters would continue to fly and the RNLI would still send out its lifeboats, a spokeswoman added.

A DVLA spokesman said: "Our priority is to maintain a service to our customers and we have well-established contingency plans to minimise disruption.

"Motorists can apply online or by phone to renew their vehicle tax, declare their vehicle off road or apply for a new, updated or replacement driving licence."

PCS members were involved in a 24-hour UK-wide strike by public sector workers earlier this month over government changes to pensions.

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