Rail strikes over Christmas 'devastating' for hospitality

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Rail strikes over Christmas 'devastating' for hospitality

Related tags Strike action Network rail Trade union Industrial action ukhospitality

Hospitality trade bodies have warned that planned rail strikes next month in the run-up to Christmas will be 'devastating' for the sector.

The RMT announced yesterday (22 November) that industrial action will be held across two 48-hour periods on the week before Christmas (13-14 and 16-17 December), which is generally considered to be one of the busiest weeks of the year for hospitality firms. 

A further two 48-hour strikes will take place on 3-4 and 6-7 January 2023.

It follows a series of walk-outs in recent months by rail workers across the UK train network, which has caused significant travel disruption and led to city centre hospitality businesses reporting a 40% to 50% sales drop​​​.

“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, says Kate Nicholls,” chief executive of UKHospitality. 

“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.”

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, adds that hospitality usinesses 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.

“News of these rail strikes in the weeks leading up to Christmas will hit pubs in town and city centres hard,” she says. 

“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.”

The RMT has said the latest strike action will send 'a clear message' that its workers want a better deal.

More than 40,000 RMT members are expected to take part, the union said, after its bosses held a meeting on Tuesday to decide on the latest dates.

There will also be an overtime ban from 18 December until 2 January, meaning the union will be taking industrial action for four weeks in total.

In a statement, the RMT's general secretary Mick Lynch said: “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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