Number of city firms support rail strikes despite disruption leaving shops 'dead'

·5-min read
Glasgow businesses support rail strike despite it leaving shops "dead"
Glasgow businesses support rail strike despite it leaving shops "dead"

A NUMBER of businesses in Glasgow are sympathising with the striking rail workers, but fear the personal cost to them.

Employers were left with “dead shops” as industrial action kicked off yesterday, triggering “empty streets” throughout the city.

It comes as Network Rail downed tools across the UK over a pay dispute, which caused ScotRail to only operate five routes between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Two more strikes are set to take place on Thursday and Saturday, with customers being urged to "only travel if necessary".

Glasgow Times: Ian from Brawesome bagels supports the strike
Glasgow Times: Ian from Brawesome bagels supports the strike

Ian from Brawesome bagels supports the strike

ScotRail said it would only be able to run two trains per hour on the Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk High line, on the Edinburgh-Bathgate route, the Glasgow to Hamilton/Larkhall service and on the Glasgow to Lanark line.

One train an hour will run on the Edinburgh to Glasgow via Shotts service.

The major rail strikes could create a “perfect storm” for Glasgow’s hospitality this summer, according to the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.

It comes as businesses desperately try to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and “can’t take any more” as they now face more disruption.

Now business have spoke to the Glasgow Times about what this means for their own companies.

Glasgow Times: Ian supports the strike despite personal costs to him
Glasgow Times: Ian supports the strike despite personal costs to him

Ian supports the strike despite personal costs to him

Ian Brooke, founder of Brawsome Bagels, opened up about his concerns as he also tackles the cost-of-living crisis and the Covid pandemic.

The 42-year-old said: “I do support the strike. When you aren't getting paid what you believe is right, then yes, you should strike about it 100%.

“I do think it is poor timing, that could have been done better.

“We have monkeypox, Covid, the cost-of-living prices, energy price rises, Brexit, and my costs keep going up. So, all these things combined and now chucking something else into it is a bit ill considered.

“It is not easy [being a business owner] but you get to a point you have to just keep going, what are the other options.

“I can’t close the doors. I have staff to look after. I have to keep myself employed and my staff are paid an accredited living wage.

“When I set this business up I budgeted to be a living wage employer and I'm a start-up, so if I can do it I know all these other businesses can do it.”

Glasgow Times: Lindsay struggles to get to work without regular trains
Glasgow Times: Lindsay struggles to get to work without regular trains

Lindsay struggles to get to work without regular trains

Refill Station employee, Lindsay Aylees, struggled to get to work as the rail services shut down.

The 45-year-old, from the East End, is now bracing for a “big change” to business if the strikes continue.

She said: “The streets are absolutely empty.

“It was a hassle for us to get to work as well because the trains are off.

“If the strike continues we will see a big change definitely, it is going to cause a problem.

“I understand the strikes but I find it annoying because it will have knock-on effects for everything.

“It will affect me being on time for work and our business.”

Glasgow Times: Waqar said the strike left his shop empty
Glasgow Times: Waqar said the strike left his shop empty

Waqar said the strike left his shop empty

News 24 shop employee, Waqar Ahmed, is worried about the future of his business after noticing a drastic footfall in traffic.

The 38-year-old, from Glasgow, is sympathetic to the rail staffs' mission but it has left his shop “dead”.

He said: “It has absolutely affected our customer traffic. Today we lost so much business.

“Normally we have 10-15 customers at a time in the shop, but today we are dead.

"I am absolutely worried about that. It is not good for the business.

"What can we do? We understand their demands and they have a right to strike but unfortunately it will affect us.”

Colin Wilkinson, managing director of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA), cautioned that greatly reduced train services would also potentially impact on staff and public safety.

“To put it bluntly, the hospitality sector just can’t take any more,” said Mr Wilkinson.

“Businesses are slowly recovering after the pandemic and just when most are feeling optimistic for the first time and looking forward to a good summer, along comes a national rail strike which will deter people from travelling into our towns and cities.

“If there are no trains or if the last train home is 6.30pm, people won’t bother going out at all and who can blame them. Nobody wants to be worrying about how they will get home after meeting friends in the pub, enjoying dinner, attending an event or going to a nightclub.”

He added: “With soaring utility bills and other cost increases, serious staffing issues and now disruption on the railways, this summer is shaping up to be a ‘perfect storm’ for Scotland’s hospitality businesses.”

Richard Muir, deputy chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: “Public transport is critical to all cities but especially across Glasgow which has much lower car ownership levels compared to other cities in the UK.

“Couple this with an already depleted taxi supply then it is easy to see why many businesses across Glasgow are worried about the knock-on effect the strike action will have on our economy, especially within the hospitality and retail sectors which are still in a recovery mode following the last two years of lockdown.

“Glasgow’s footfall is still well below its pre-pandemic levels with the shortfall now 21% lower than 2019 levels. This equates to 930,000 less visitors in the city centre last month which unfortunately has contributed towards city centre ground floor unit vacancy rates increasing by 23% compare with pre pandemic levels.

“The lack of reliable public transport has a direct effect on our economy and the businesses that rely on it.

“We urge all parties to resume negotiations so we can prevent additional disruption to businesses and residents alike.”

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