RAIL STRIKES this week are set to add to the woes of the hospitality industry, already bruised by an almost doubling of energy bills.
Industrial action by the RMT and ASLEF unions will see walkouts on three separate days of what would have been a busy week for bars and pubs.
Staff will walk out to varying degrees on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with the latter causing particular chaos for fans heading to the Epsom Derby and the FA Cup Final.
In what has been a tough year for hospitality business, amid soaring energy costs and a cut down in consumer spending, Michael Kill, head of the Night Time Industries Association, told City A.M that owners are losing revenue due to customers and staff having “limited access to critical transport infrastructure.”
He said: “Our industry is once again being crippled by industrial action…some businesses, particularly festivals, think their survival could be down to whether strike action takes place over their particular trading days.”
The sector’s trade body UKHospitality expects the strikes to wipe out £132m-worth of sales, bringing the overall bill for industrial action to around £3bn over the past year.
Both unions have been involved in a fierce dispute with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Department for Transport (DfT) over pay and conditions since last year.
The walkouts come at a difficult time for the industry, which is already dealing with increased energy bills.
Data collected by CGA by NielsenIQ suggests pubs, bars and restaurants have seen energy bills surge some 81 per cent over the past year.
UKHospitality have called on the government for more support to help businesses weather the storm. The government introduced an emergency package over the winter but since that came to an end in April, pubs have seen little benefit from its replacement Energy Bills Discount Scheme.
One south London pub’s energy bill, seen by City A.M., shows an overall increase of around £900 on bills over the winter, offset with just £30 of government support.
“The Government must recognise this crisis isn’t just crippling businesses now,” a statement from the British Institute of Innkeeping, UKHospitality, the British Beer and Pub Association and Hospitality Ulster said.
“Left unresolved it will have a lasting wider impact long into the future, impacting local employment, supply chains and removing essential community hubs from villages, towns and cities across the whole of the UK.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “We acted swiftly to provide businesses… with an unprecedented package of support. As of April, this has saved them £6.9 billion on energy costs… enabling some to only pay around half of predicted wholesale energy costs.