Rail strikes will jeopardise hospitality’s recovery warn trade bodies

By Amelie Maurice-Jones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Difficult summer months: National rail strikes could harm hospitality's recovery from pandemic (Getty/ Cultura/Monty Rakusen)
Difficult summer months: National rail strikes could harm hospitality's recovery from pandemic (Getty/ Cultura/Monty Rakusen)

Related tags: ukhospitality, Social responsibility

UKHospitality (UKH) has warned UK railway strikes, announced yesterday, will jeopardise the hospitality sector’s recovery from Covid, with the Night Time Trade Association stating the move sent a "shockwave" through the industry.

This comes after RMT union members voted in favour of strike action across Network Rail and 13 train operating companies yesterday (Tuesday 24 May).

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls believed a national rail strike would further jeopardise hospitality businesses working hard to rebuild following the pandemic, in the face of rising costs and a fall in consumer confidence.

Out of all railway workers who took part in the vote, 89% voted in favour of strike action with only 11% voting against.

The union will now be demanding urgent talks with Network Rail and the 15 train operating companies that were balloted to find a negotiated settlement to the dispute over pay, jobs and safety.

Essential to safety

By law, the RMT has to give two weeks’ notice, so any strikes will start in late June reported the Guardian​.

“Trains are essential across the country for the safe transport of staff and customers”, said Nicholls.

She continued: “A lack of commuter trains bringing people into towns and cities will further set back the recovery of our high streets and will also deter people from going out in the evening - especially women and vulnerable people who may rely on trains to get them home and feel safe late at night.

“Furthermore, as we come into the crucial summer months, disruption on the rail network will discourage both UK and international tourism – we are already hearing reports from Scotland of cancelled hotel bookings due to the dispute between Aslef and Scotrail there.”

“The transport infrastructure within the night time economy is vitally important as we move in to peak summer season for festival and events, and a critical time for tourism, so reliant by the sector for recovery.”

Damaging the sector

Strikes would inevitably damage already fragile hospitality businesses, which would have a negative knock-on effect to the wider UK economy, according to Nicholls.

Michael Kill, Night Time Economy Association chief executive said the announcement had sent a "shockwave" through the industry over concerns for staff and public safety, and the potential impact on trade.”

With rail services across the UK finishing at 19.00pm, many will be left stranded at night, Kill said, which he believed would compromise safety with limited transport services available.”

“The transport infrastructure within the night time economy is vitally important as we move in to peak summer season for festival and events, and a critical time for tourism, so reliant by the sector for recovery," he added.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "Today's overwhelming endorsement by railway workers is a vindication of the union's approach and sends a clear message that members want a decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies.

"Our NEC will now meet to discuss a timetable for strike action from mid-June, but we sincerely hope ministers will encourage the employers to return to the negotiating table and hammer out a reasonable settlement with the RMT."

Related topics: Rebuilding the Pub Sector

Related news

Show more