Sector calls for 'urgent resolution' to rail dispute

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Critically difficult economic climate: hospitality leaders call for urgent reslution to rail disputes ahead of sector's busiest trading period of the year (Credit: Getty/Image Source)
Critically difficult economic climate: hospitality leaders call for urgent reslution to rail disputes ahead of sector's busiest trading period of the year (Credit: Getty/Image Source)

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Trade bodies and leaders from across the sector have written to rail dispute representatives stressing the need for an “urgent resolution” ahead of the first “normal” festive trading period for three years.

Sent by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), British institute of Innkeeping (BII), the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA), the Mayor of the West Midlands and the Association of Town and City Management, the letter pleaded for a settlement to be reached so businesses and communities “can operate freely in this most critical of trading periods”.

BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “The weeks leading up to Christmas are the busiest of the year for pubs, and they were looking forward to trading normally for the first time in three years, but news of these strikes has dealt a serious blow in an already critically difficult economic climate. 

“Every day we go without a resolution is another day of damage to the industry, with cancellations being made and Christmas parties called off. 

Urgent resolution 

“Our industry desperately needs a boost this Christmas and so we are urging all parties to find an urgent resolution to rescue this festive season from ruin for our pubs.”

Additionally, the letter, addressed to the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) general secretary Mick Lynch and Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines, claimed the sector earns a “significant portion” of its annual takings during December, equivalent to £2.3bn for the month and £582m the week of the proposed strikes alone.

This follows last week’s announcement from the RMT that more than 40,000 union members would take part in a series of 48-hour strikes across December and January amid ongoing negotiations regarding pay disputes and working conditions for rail workers.

Moreover, RMT said it would be implementing an overtime ban from Sunday 18 December to Monday 2 January, meaning strike action will take place for four weeks in total.  

No incentive 

However, yesterday (Tuesday 29 November) Lynch addressed the impact strikes have had on the hospitality industry and accused the Government of having an “astonishing” lack of urgency in aiding a resolution, stating time was “running out”.

Lynch said: "We understand the impact these rail strikes are having on your sector at this time of year, yet while you face disruption to your business at this critical time, the private rail businesses we are in dispute with will not lose a penny.”

Furthermore, Lynch claimed the Government would have “bailed out” the rail companies by providing some £318m to cover the cost of the strikes by the end of the next round of action, giving them “no incentive” to settle the disputes.

He added: "To be clear, as a result of this indemnification, if these strikes go ahead, the rail companies will continue to make profits while you will lose money.

"As it is the Government, which is clearly prolonging this dispute with their taxpayer funded bailout for the private train companies, you would clearly be justified in asking what similar steps it will be taking to compensate your businesses."

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