Train strikes: Pub boss warns walkouts could ruin Christmas planson November 29, 2022 at 8:47 am

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The Fuller’s boss says festive parties could be cancelled without a speedy resolution to the dispute.

Bartender pulling a pint in a Fuller's pubImage source, Getty Images

The boss of the pub chain Fuller’s has told the BBC that rail strikes could see Christmas parties cancelled unless there is a “speedy resolution”.

Simon Emeny also warned that staff who rely on hours and tips over Christmas could suffer if there is a wave of cancelled bookings.

He urged the RMT to cancel the upcoming strikes to make sure the sector “can have the Christmas it deserves”.

It recently announced fresh strikes in the run-up to Christmas.

In the latest in the ongoing row over pay, working conditions and job security for rail workers, industrial action will be held across four 48-hour periods on 13-14 and 16-17 December, and 3-4 and 6-7 January.

Mr Emeny said that the move could dent trade in a “vital” Christmas period and see customers cancel plans.

“It’s been a challenging two or three years for hospitality, so we are all looking at this Christmas as a chance to trade well ahead of what will probably be a tricky winter and these train strikes are going to impact the hospitality sector – but more importantly, hospitality workers,” he told the BBC.

“They will probably have hours cut, see tips significantly reduced if these train strikes still happen. We are positive about Christmas but the train strikes are a big problem for the sector,” he added.

He also said that bookings for Christmas parties and lunches across the pub and hotel chain had been “absolutely excellent” so far.

The firm, which employs more than 5,000 people, has so far been telling customers that it believes the strikes could be cancelled or postponed.

“There’s only so long we can delay those enquiries about cancelling and really what we need is a speedy resolution – not a resolution at the last minute because people will have changed their plans by then,” Mr Emeny said.

The RMT union said last week, however, that the strike action would send “a clear message” that workers want a better deal.

More than 40,000 RMT members across Network Rail and 14 train companies are expected to take part.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, wrote to the transport secretary calling on government to help rail bosses come to an agreement, pointing out that it is a lucrative time of year for workers who make good tips and can work additional overtime because of extra demand from customers.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

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