Examiners, who have downed tools over pay – believing they should earn more than office staff due to the risks they face – were ordered in summer to provide at least ‘minimum services’, but this translates to just one test per examiner per month.
Driving schools say they are losing money and that hundreds across Spain are in danger of shutting down.
Spokesman for the industry Salvador Ortiz says: “What we want is for both sides [examiners and the General Directorate of Traffic, or DGT] to sit down and talk about it until they find a solution.
“Thousands of pupils are waiting to take their tests because they need a driving licence to be able to get a job – whether that’s as professionals such as lorry drivers, or simply to be able to commute, as is the case with lots of young adults; many of whom want to get at least a moped licence, and can’t.”
Ortiz says the real problem started around two years ago when numerous examiners retired and were no longer being replaced, meaning existing ones have had to double up – another reason for their ongoing protest.
“Back then, we had 700 examiners in Spain, and now we have just 500,” Ortiz says.
“And the DGT has not given those 500 what they promised them.”
In the last two years, the industry has trained 22,000 new instructors, meaning ‘every day there are fewer examiners and more and more instructors’, says Ortiz.
“This situation has destroyed a public service, but is also destroying us, the driving schools, and our pupils – we are the ones who are suffering the most.”
According to Ortiz, 130 driving schools in Spain have shut down for good as they cannot afford their IVA bills – which have to be paid even when invoices have not been settled – nor any other associated expenses.
“These small businesses, like other small businesses, are on the edge of a cliff, and nobody’s listening to us,” Ortiz complains.
Examiners have announced their industrial action, which currently sees them striking three days a week, will continue through November and December.
They have made proposals to the DGT, but say they have not had any response.