DRIVING examiners are back on strike today (Monday) and will continue to do so every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday until the traffic authorities take action to remedy the severe staff shortages caused by disillusioned employees leaving due to poor working conditions – and then not being replaced.
Summer is always the busiest time for driving examiners, since students spend their months off working on getting through their tests as they do not have much time to do so the rest of the year.
But the Association of Driving Examiners (ASEXTRA) plans to down tools three times a week until at least July 31, meaning tests will only be held twice-weekly.
During the last strike on June 2, a total of 90% of examiners joined in and over 7,000 driving tests were cancelled.
General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) leader Gregorio Serrano has met with staff committee representatives but was unable to unblock the impasse, particularly as he would not agree to a salary add-on as 'danger money' for examiners, who earn the same as desk staff despite the added risks they face.
Government funding cuts mean 200 staff have left as working conditions have declined, leaving just 700 in traffic offices across the country.
They have not been replaced, and more are planning on leaving.
The DGT is desperately searching for other civil servants to take their place from wherever they can – even from the Armed Forces – but may have to open the door to non-public sector workers for a spell.
This would not be ideal for the workers themselves, since they would have to reapply for their jobs every two years and be automatically replaced by someone else who ticks all the boxes, such as holding civil service exams, even if they do not have the experience.