The driving school instructors accused the RSA (Route Safety Authority) of treating them in a “degrading” manner by denying them access to examination centers.
Instructors held a protest outside the RSA Driving Test Center office on Jamestown Road in Finglas, Dublin on Thursday. They have been denied access to the testing center facilities since the pandemic began in March of last year.
Instructor Laura Broxon said they were not allowed to use the restrooms, sinks or the canteen. “It’s degrading to have to stand in the rain and not even be allowed in to wash your hands,” she said.
“We are part of the solution by closing the backlog of driving exams. About 80 percent of my students would rent my car for their exam, which means I’m the escort driver. I’m the one who takes them there.
“Whether it’s scorching heat or pouring rain, I’m the one who has to stay outside no matter what. ”
The protest was organized by the Unite union, with regional manager Jean O’Dowd stressing that most other restrictions had been lifted.
Instructors could go to nightclubs, restaurants or cafes, but could not use the driving test center facilities, she said.
“Yet the Highway Safety Authority and the Ministry of Transport have refused to engage with the driving instructors, who are now the only group of workers in the country to be denied basic shelter and sanitary facilities under a pretext for restrictions that have long since been relaxed for everyone else. ”
Instructor Dominic Brophy said he can spend up to 30 hours with his learner drivers. He said the tester usually got into his seat and put his hands on the same steering wheel.
“The Highway Safety Authority should want me to be able to wash my hands,” he said, “because their employee sits in the same seat.
“There are queues around the corner for the Bad Bobs, you can enter museums or stadiums. RSA had 19 months to fix this problem and they did nothing.
In response, the authority said it operated testing centers from various locations, access to which was not controlled by RSA in the “vast majority of cases.”
He added: “In only a small number of centers, RSA directly controls access and in these centers we do not have the resources to manage secure access through ADIs. [advanced driving instructors] and other members of the public in a way that ensures the safety of our staff and customers while continuing to provide this essential service, ”the authority said.