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Christmas rail strikes to cost hospitality sector £1.5bn

Announced last week, a series of Christmas rail strikes will cost the UK hospitality sector £1.5 billion, new data has suggested.

Though the full extent of the lines affected is not yet completely clear, strikes announced last week on 13 December, 14 December, 16 December, 17 December, 3 January, 4 January, 6 January and 7 January are a fresh body blow to the reeling hospitality sector.

Trade body UK Hospitality said the extent of the impact on venues will be comparable to that of the Covid-19 Omicron variant surge last year.

Kate Nicholls, UK Hospitality chief executive, 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 its 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 which 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.”

Mick Lynch said, “working people across our class need a pay rise and we are determined to win that for our members in RMT”.

There are fresh hopes that an outcome could be reached in time to avoid maximum interruptions over the festive period, after transport secretary Mark Harper met Lynch for what the former described as “positive” talks.

However, he told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg “I do not have a bottomless pit of 
taxpayers’ money to throw at this problem”.

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