The Government should consider terminating the company running the NCT’s contract if it fails to get to grips with backlogs in the system, according to a Fianna Fáil senator.
Timmy Dooley was speaking after NCT mechanics rejected a plan to bring in lower-skilled workers to speed up inspections.
NCT operator Applus+ had proposed bringing in lower-qualified workers to carry out the early stages of the test before handing cars on to fully qualified mechanics to complete the inspection.
The Labour Court had called for the plan to be rolled out on a trial basis in Dublin; however, in a ballot last month 82% of the workforce’s SIPTU members rejected it.
The company has said it is disappointed with the result but remains committed to finding new ways to address what it believes is a shortage of qualified mechanics in Ireland and across the EU.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Senator Dooley said Applus+ bid for a contract with the Government and now must deliver on it.
“At the end of the day, this is paid for by the consumer,” he said. “By the car owners.
“It is beyond me why Applus+ haven’t been able to respond in a more timely manner to address the backlogs and bringing in a lower grade of worker is hardly the answer – or a less skilled worker.”
He said the company should get on with employing more mechanics to address the backlog.
“That is what they were contracted to do in the first place,” he said.
“If they were responding to a different contract by the State fair enough – where everybody is bidding against the same criteria.
“But it seems to me now that Applus+ want to change the criteria they have won the contract on – effectively reducing their own cost base.
“I don’t think that would be fair to the others that would have bid for the contract in the first place.”
He said the Government should tell the company to start hitting its targets or face being replaced.
“What I would suggest is that the Government needs to make it very clear to Applus+ they either perform the contract they were awarded or it be terminated for cause at a point in time,” he said.
“Go back to the marketplace and get a company that is capable of delivering against the criteria that was first issued.”
Also on the show, CompleteCar.ie Editor Shane O' Donoghue said Senator Dooley’s view is “too idealistic”.
“I really don’t think Applus+ are looking to increase their profit base here,” he said.
“I think they are responding to justified criticism that they are not delivering a service and the core issue is that they can’t get enough qualified mechanics.
“In an ideal world, everybody working there on the cars would be a qualified mechanic and I think that is where we need to get to in an ideal world.
“This idea of using less skilled workers for some of the tasks was in response to the backlog and it was a way of reducing the backlog and I think it was a really good idea.”
There are currently around 375,000 cars on the road without a valid NCT certificate – more than double the normal amount for this time of year.
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