The hospitality sector is warning of a “nightmare Christmas” following the announcement of more railway strike dates.
The RMT declared that its 40,000 members will walk out throughout December and January, coinciding with the sector’s busiest trading period.
Strike action will take place at Network Rail and 14 other train operators – including LNER and Avanti West Coast – on 13, 14, 16, 17 December as well as on 3, 4, 6, 7 January.
“The announcement of further strike action during the festive period will be catastrophic and will inevitably have a knock-on effect on service either side of the key holiday period,” said NTIA chief executive, Michael Kill. “These sporadic weekly or daily planned strikes are eating into consumer confidence, leaving many concerned about travelling. Our industry is already suffering heavily from rising costs as inflation reaches a 40-year high, and with consumer disposable income at an all-time low, coupled with rail strike action, we feel we are revisiting Christmas 2021.”
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls, said:
“Continued rail strikes have had a huge impact on our hospitality sector; preventing staff from making it into work and disrupting consumers’ plans meaning a huge drop in sales for venues across the sector.
“Further strikes during the busiest time of the year for hospitality will be devastating, just as everyone was anticipating an uninterrupted Christmas period for the first time in three years.
“I’d encourage all parties to come together to find a resolution that can avoid further strikes and the disruption they cause both businesses and the public.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, summed up the thoughts of all: “This is devastating news for pubs.”
She added: Businesses across the country will be relying on a busy Christmas period to pull them through what is set to be an incredibly difficult winter in the months that follow. Pubs have been hoping to make the most of Christmas party bookings and festive gatherings for the first time in three years.
“News of these rail strikes in the weeks leading up to Christmas will hit pubs in town and city centres hard. 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.”
In a statement the RMT, the negotiating process had become “a farce” as it accused employers of “saying different things to different people, sometimes at the same time.”
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,” said RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch.