DRIVING test examiners have begun a 48-hour strike as the new test was officially rolled-out.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will mount picket lines outside test centres across England today and tomorrow, with the new test also taking effect in Scotland and Wales.

The union said examiners were being told to work longer, harder and for no extra pay as the new tests were introduced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

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.”

The DVSA said the new test offered a more realistic assessment of driving skills.

A statement said: “PCS’s shameless industrial action is not about the safety of the new test, it’s about the implementation of the standardised Modernised Employment Contract which was introduced in 2014 that PCS members voted overwhelmingly to accept.”

Serwotka wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling last week urging him to intervene in the row.

He said: “Learner drivers inconvenienced by this have our sympathy but the blame lies squarely with the DVSA and the Government.

“A completely inadequate, last-minute reply from the minister to me is so disappointing, and fails to address the causes of this dispute.

“He repeats the misinformation of DVSA management that travelling time was settled three years ago. This is completely wrong. Some issues were resolved in 2015 but travelling time was left to further negotiations.

“Talks have failed as DVSA insisted on imposing new rosters.”

Grayling said in a letter to the union that most of the issues in the dispute had been resolved and negotiations could continue if industrial action was called off.

Union members have voted by 84 per cent in favour of strikes on a 70 per cent turnout.