Scotland’s hospitality industry could lose £50m due to rail strikes, body warns

24 June 2022, 17:04

Ticket barriers at Waverley Station
Rail and Tube strikes. Picture: PA

Bars and restaurants have been reporting cancellations this week as RMT members take industrial action over pay and conditions.

Hospitality bosses say businesses across Scotland could lose around £50 million due to the impact of industrial action taking place on the railways this week.

Leon Thompson, executive director of UKHospitality Scotland, said members of the organisation have been reporting cancellations this week as RMT members take industrial action over a pay freeze and changes to terms and conditions along with possible redundancies.

He said: “The rail strike is proving to be extremely damaging to hospitality businesses in Scotland. Members have been reporting cancellations all week as customers have been forced to change their plans. A further day of action on Saturday will be devastating for businesses that need to be able to trade fully.

“UKHospitality Scotland estimates that the financial loss to our businesses this week will be in excess of £50 million. Three days of action has led to a week of cancellations and a lost weekend, leaving businesses already experiencing financial difficulties in an even tougher place.”

His comments come after RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch warned there could be further strikes if a resolution is not met.

Rail and Tube strikes
The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, on a picket line outside Euston station in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association said prolonged industrial action could impact on events such as Edinburgh’s Fringe and TRNSMT in Glasgow.

A spokesperson for the organisation said: “We would be very concerned if strikes are to be prolonged throughout the summer as this would seriously impact key events such as the Edinburgh festivals and music festivals taking place across Scotland as well as further hampering the night-time sector.”

Disruption is set to continue over the weekend with train services starting later on Friday and a further day of industrial action set for Saturday.

Services will also be reduced on Sunday due to a temporary timetable in place.

However some hospitality workers joined the picket lines earlier this week.

Chair of Unite Hospitality’s Glasgow branch, Caitlin Lee, said: “A delegation from Unite Hospitality Glasgow branch (the largest group of unionised hospitality workers outside London) joined the RMT picket line on Thursday at Central Station with their new banner in tow.

“Not just to show solidarity with what is the most important industrial dispute in a generation but to highlight that hospitality workers (like the cleaners and service workers on our railways) are some of lowest paid in the Scottish economy. If the RMT win, then we all win.”

By Press Association