Leading hospitality businesses have joined UKHospitality’s calls for the crucial festive season to be protected and for an urgent resolution to the ongoing rail dispute.
Iconic hospitality brands, including Wasabi, Greene King, Fuller’s, and Mitchells & Butlers have signed an open letter, alongside UKHospitality, to the Transport Secretary, RMT, ASLEF and Rail Delivery Group, urging them to ‘redouble efforts’ to resolve the ongoing dispute.
It comes as fresh rail strikes, beginning today, are set to cost the sector up to £400 million, on top of the £3.5 billion already lost over the last 16 months.The letter, signed by 37 leading hospitality businesses, urged both rail unions to make a public commitment to not strike during the critical festive period, to avoid significant economic harm to the sector.
In the open letter, the group says: ““The significance of the festive season to our sector cannot be overstated. It represents a crucial time when we traditionally see a substantial portion of our annual revenue generated, crucial to enabling venues to operate during the quiet months at the start of the year.
“The festive season is a crucial period for our workforce: missed shifts and subsequent lost earnings – including lost income from tips – would be most acutely felt around Christmas.
“We are urging the rail unions to make a public commitment to not strike during the critical festive period. Striking would cause significant harm to hospitality businesses, undermine workers’ ability to earn and disrupt the plans of hard-working families across the country.”
All types of hospitality businesses have been affected by the strikes, from city centre food-to-go to family-run pubs on the Kent coast.
Neil Sebba, Managing Director of Tossed, said the ongoing strikes had been ‘extremely debilitating’, as a business that depends on the flow of office workers.
Beds & Bars, which operates pubs, tourist accommodation and entertainment venues, said its sales were down 70%, on average, on strike days. Keith Knowles, its CEO, said its staff were significantly affected in being unable to get to work.
Phil Thorley runs Thorley Taverns, with almost 20 pubs in Kent, and said strikes had ‘decimated’ the number of visitors from London to the Kent coast. He said it had ‘deeply affected’ trade.