It’s beginning to look a lot like chaos: Rail strikes hit London as businesses shed Christmas bookings
Parts of London resembled a ghost town yesterday as rail workers kicked off the first of several days of strikes.
Bars in the capital warned they are haemorrhaging tens of thousands of pounds in lost bookings due to mass walkouts deterring commuters, raising the threat of businesses missing out on their third ever-critical golden quarter in a row.
Industry groups UKHospitality and the Night Time Industries Association estimated that venues would lose between £1.5bn and 2bn due to the slew of strikes.
Nightlife bosses also warned firms would go bankrupt and thousands of jobs could be lost.
London Bridge bar Amazing Grace shed £50,000 due to cancelled Christmas parties, with Sammie Ellard-King from the venue saying staff’s lost hours was “really upsetting”.
City cabaret club owner Alex Proud said his venue was sold out every night a month ago but was now down £30k in 24 hours. After three years of Covid-19 disruption, Proud said he was “in shock” that the industry was “now being hit again.”
Unions were “recklessly holding the country to hostage at the expense of everyone else”, Sarah Willingham, founder of the Nightcap cocktail chain owner, said.
The Cocktail Club and Tonight Josephine owner called on the government to intervene so unions were “not able to take action that will cause irreparable damage to our economy.”
Figures out yesterday from the ONS revealed 400,000 working days were lost to strikes in October, the highest since November 2011, illustrating the scale of havoc industrial action is already wreaking on the economy.
But, the disruption is set to ramp up in the coming weeks and union bosses told City A.M. the annual figure could hit the highest this century.
Network Rail staff and 14 other train operators will also down tools on 16, 17 December and 3, 4, 6, 7 January as part of a long-standing dispute over pay and jobs.
Members of the union RMT will also strike between 6pm on Christmas Eve and 6am on 27 December after they rejected a nine per cent pay rise over two years and no compulsory redundancies until early 2025
Springboard data out yesterday showed footfall in Central London collapsed over 31 per cent from last week, signalling consumers are steering clear of the capital to avoid travel disruption.
Rishi Sunak yesterday warned his cabinet that winter will be “challenging” in the face of widespread industrial action.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said “the government will do all we can to minimise disruption”, while calling for union bosses to get back to the negotiating table.