December rail strikes to 'cost hospitality £1.5bn'

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

December rail strikes to 'cost hospitality £1.5bn'

Related tags Strike action Network rail Trade union ukhospitality Government Industrial action

UKHospitality has warned that next month's rail strikes, which are set to take place in the run-up to Christmas, will cost the hospitality industry £1.5bn in lost sales.

The trade body says the level of disruption caused will be similar to that created by the surge of the Omicron Covid-19 variant last year. 

The RMT announced earlier this week 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​​​​.

According to UKHospitality, hospitality businesses have already seen large-scale cancellations as a result of the strike announcements, which it says are unlikely to be rescheduled.

The trade body has urged the Transport Secretary to bring all negotiating parties to the table to find a settlement to avert the strikes and the consequent damage to businesses and workers.

“The impact of rail strikes already this year has been devastating and wide-reaching, but this will pale in comparison to what we will see as a result of the upcoming strikes in December,” says Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.

“This disruption will devastate hospitality businesses during its busiest period of the year and will once again force the public to cancel and rearrange plans, just as they were preparing for an uninterrupted Christmas. Businesses have already seen mass cancellations which won’t be rescheduled, costing the sector billions in lost sales.

“The Christmas period is not just good for businesses, it’s the most lucrative time for workers where they can benefit from additional overtime and higher levels of tips due to excess demand.

“These strikes damage all parts of society and it’s now time that the government proactively brings all partners to the table to deliver a solution that protects the nation’s workers and hospitality customers this Christmas.”

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