Train strikes: Warning Christmas walkout will force pubs, clubs and restaurants out of business

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT  (PA Wire)
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT (PA Wire)

Christmas train strikes will cause “phenomenal damage” to pubs, clubs and restaurants, the chair of the Night Time Industries Association warned today.

Sacha Lord, who co-founded the Parklife festival, said many businesses could be forced to shutdown in the new year following the pandemic and now a flurry of cancellations due to industrial action by rail unions.

More than 40,000 RMT members across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies are due to walk out on December 13, 14, 16 and 17, which is traditionally one of the busiest weeks of the year for hospitality.

Further strikes are planned on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

Mr Lord told BBC Radio 4: “The damage is going to be phenomenal. I’m seeing people now who have bought tickets to my events who are saying we can’t get from London to Manchester.

“There is a knock-on effect, in terms of hotel cancellations, restaurant cancellations because they can’t get there as well. The damage is going to be incredible at a moment when the industry really needs to grab every penny it can.”

The hospitality industry is set to lose an estimated £3billion in cancellations and lost trade due to the train strikes.

This amounts to around a quarter of the industry’s takings in December, according to trade association UKHospitality.

“Continued rail strikes have had a huge impact on our sector, preventing staff from making it into work and disrupting consumers’ plans meaning a huge drop in sales across the sector,” UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said.

“Further strikes during the busiest time of the year will be devastating, just as everyone was anticipating an uninterrupted Christmas period for the first time in three years.”

It comes as nurses, civil servants, postal workers and teachers have also voted in favour of walkouts over pay and working conditions.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper was due to meet with RMT leader Mick Lynch today to discuss the industrial action.

Labour member Mr Lord said he supported the strikers’ call for better conditions and pay and called for the Government to “urgently” help facilitate negotiations.

“The [strikes] will be catastrophic,” he said. “We are in a worse situation now than we were during the pandemic.

“Just looking at nightclubs alone at the end of this year we will have lost a third acrss the UK. It is a really concerning time.”