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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 10:03 GMT
Call to privatise MoT tests
A vehicle test centre
Vehicle test centre staff went on strike earlier this year
The motor industry in Northern Ireland has called for MoT tests to be privatised following the recent civil service strike.

About 100,000 MoT tests had to be processed after the strike was suspended, and a significant number are still believed to be outstanding.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation said the strike had a "devastating effect" on the industry.

Chief executive Matthew Carrington said it was crucial vehicle testing was privatised "as a matter of extreme urgency".

He said many small businesses had been "verging on bankruptcy" as a result of the strike.

"This is now the time when government must take notice, with privatisation of vehicle testing either coming into line with Great Britain and allowing garages to carry out MoTs, or by franchising out the existing vehicle test centres to private operators."

He also called for the Northern Ireland MoT test to be brought into line with Britain, where free re-tests of failed cars are available within 24 hours if the car has failed on a minor point.

Nipsa has been involved in strike action since December
Nipsa has been involved in strike action since December
"The Northern Ireland re-test fee of 17 for a car is a money spinner for the DVTA, and having to wait a number of weeks for a re-test does not provide a good consumer service," he said.

"I sincerely hope that politicians and civil servants will address these issues now".

However, Kieran Bannon from the civil service union, Nipsa, said the idea of privatising MoT centres had been debated long before the industrial action.

He said: "It is only predicated on this so-called backlog which is unquantified at the moment.

"The test in GB costs more and has lower standards. We have got to look at the standards as an issue, because this is primarily about road safety."

Nipsa members began strike action in May at MoT centres in Northern Ireland, but that action was suspended in July, even though the dispute was not settled.

However, the union has been involved in strike action since December over what it said was the government's refusal to give civil service staff any cost of living increases in rates of pay since April last year.

The government has imposed a pay package which will add 3.67% to the wage bill of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

However, union officials said that was part of a pre-agreed increment and takes no account of the rise in the cost of living.

MoT exemption for NI drivers
29 Jun 04 |  Northern Ireland
Call for change in MoT system
21 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
MoT strike 'costing jobs'
21 Jun 04 |  Northern Ireland

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