UKH and Nightcap plea to cancel rail strikes

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Call to save December: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls and Nightcap CEO Sarah Willingham
Call to save December: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls and Nightcap CEO Sarah Willingham

Related tags Finance Social responsibility Cocktails

UKHospitality and Nightcap have pleaded for the cancellation of December rail strikes that the former said will cost the hospitality sector £1.5bn.

Nightcap, the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and Barrio Familia bars, has labelled December “sacrosanct” and promised to give RMT workers a free drink in January if they keep December strike-free.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality (UKH), has written to the Transport Secretary Mark Harper outlining the scale of the damage facing the sector.

Analysis by UKH shows proposed rail strikes set to hit the UK in December will cost the sector £1.5 billion on strike days, similar to the level of disruption caused by the Omicron Covid-19 variant last year.

Hospitality businesses have already seen large-scale cancellations, which are unlikely to be rescheduled, and will have a devastating impact on the sector and its workforce at the most critical trading period of the year.

Consequent damage

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

Nicholls said: “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.

“This disruption will devastate hospitality businesses during their 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 that 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.”

Right to strike

A joint statement from Nightcap co-founders Sarah Willingham and Michael Toxvaerd said: “We recognise times are hard for everybody including members of the RMT Union and believe that the members have a right to strike and a right to fight for fair terms. However, December should be sacrosanct.

“We are calling on the RMT Union to move the strikes to third week of January and we shall offer a free drink in our Nightcap bars to all RMT members (on their days off) in January.

“In return, all we ask is you keep December strike-free to allow people to celebrate with their friends and loved ones this Christmas.”

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