Christmas rail strikes ‘devastating' for hospitality
Trade bodies have said that continued rail strikes over the Christmas period will be "devastating" for the hospitality sector.
Rail union RMT will put on a series of 48-hour strikes in December and January over pay and working conditions, with strike action set to take place on 13-14 and 16-17 December, and 3-4 and 6-7 January. There will also be an overtime ban across the railways from 18 December until 2 January.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, said strikes preventing staff from making it into work and disrupting consumers' plans meant a "huge" drop in sales for venues and would be "devastating" to businesses during the busiest time of the year, "just as everyone was anticipating an uninterrupted Christmas period for the first time in three years".
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA), said strike action during the festive period would be "catastrophic" for night-time businesses and continued strikes were ""eating into consumer confidence".
"Our industry is already suffering heavily from rising costs, as inflation reaches a 40-year high, consumer disposable income is at an all-time low, coupled with rail strike action feel we are revisiting Christmas 2021. This year more than any other, we are heavily reliant on this period to get through Q1 2023," he said.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said pubs will be relying on the Christmas period to see them through the difficult winter months and strikes would hit pubs in town and city centres hard.
"Pubs have been hoping to make the most of Christmas party bookings and festive gatherings for the first time in three years," she said.
"The week of the strikes is usually the busiest in the year for our industry, but instead of supporting pubs, customers will be cancelling bookings and staying home, whilst staffing shortages will be exacerbated by a lack of transport options for employees. Our industry desperately needs this Christmas boost, we urgently need a resolution to reinstate train services and ensure that customers and staff can travel easily and confidently, or the impact on trade will be catastrophic."
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country and will send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions for our people.
"We have been reasonable, but it is impossible to find a negotiated settlement when the dead hand of government is presiding over these talks.
"The employers are in disarray and saying different things to different people sometimes at the same time. This whole process has become a farce that only the new secretary of state can resolve. When I meet him later this week, I will deliver that message.
"In the meantime, our message to the public is we are sorry to inconvenience you, but we urge you to direct your anger and frustration at the government and railway employers during this latest phase of action."
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