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Business leaders have urged the government to resolve a dispute over wages and conditions for railway workers after strikes sparked travel chaos that is expected to continue through the week.

Pub bosses have warned that a ‘summer of discontent’ will hammer the industry and inevitably lead to another wave of closures, just as businesses begin to recover from a two-year nightmare of closures and restrictions.

Small businesses and the self-employed have been the hardest hit nationwide, while hotel businesses are set to take a £1billion hit this week as Britons cancel outings.

Main streets and station concourses were unusually quiet on Tuesday, with retail data firm Springboard recording an 8.5% drop in visitor numbers.

Central London saw footfall plunge 27% as office workers stayed home to avoid strikes on the rail network and on the Tube.

Industrial action threatens to spill over into other sectors, from lawyers to garbage collectors, as staff demand higher wages to meet the rising cost of living. New figures show inflation hit a new 40-year high in the 12 months to May.

The threat of a general strike comes on top of a host of problems plaguing UK businesses, including sky-high energy prices, supply chain issues, an acute shortage of workers and plummeting consumer confidence. consumers.

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said the strikes had been a “disaster” for thousands of shop owners who were just starting to rebuild their businesses after two years of intermittent closures.

Passengers are seen at King’s Cross St. Pancras station in London as train services continue to be disrupted following a strike


“Retail businesses near travel hubs and in city centers will be impacted all week by a railway strike planned to cause maximum disruption,” he said. The Independent.

Retailers are trying to adjust to a new reality of fewer commuters post-pandemic and there is a “real fear” the strike will hurt longer-term business as it will reinforce the work-from-home trend, Ms. Goodacre.

“As is often the case with mass strikes, very little attention is paid to the unintended consequences on people – in this case the self-employed without any guaranteed income and already going through hard times.”

The strikes are already having “serious impacts” on the finances of workers who cannot work from home, said Andy Chamberlain, policy director at IPSE, a lobby group for the self-employed.

Many self-employed workers have struggled with the pandemic after watching work dry up and fall through gaps in government support.

“Unlike employees, the self-employed don’t get paid if they can’t work, and so thousands of those workers stand to lose a week’s earnings,” Chamberlain said.

Pubs, bars and restaurants reported a sharp drop in customer numbers on Tuesday, with industry leaders warning some venues saw only a tenth of the usual trade as the disruption continued through the week.

Adam Mayers, chief executive of Hydes Brewery, said town center venues had seen sales plummet and warned a summer of strikes across various sectors would hammer pubs across the country.

However, Hydes pubs in suburban areas noted improved trade this week as people took the opportunity to work from home, accelerating a pre-existing trend, Mr Myers said.

Adam Mayers, chief executive of Hydes Brewery, has warned a summer of strikes will lead to more pub closures

(Hydes Brewery)

He warned that a summer of strikes would “deal another blow to the already beleaguered hotel sector”.

“This will lead to higher costs and increased pressure on consumer spending. There will be very few winners and more pub closures.”

Clive Watson, founder of City Pub Group, said it was “hardly worth opening” some locations near train stations this week.

Mr Watson, executive chairman of the 42-person group, said city center locations have been hit hard by cancellations.

“We’ve seen mass canceled events and very low bookings in many places,” he said.

“In London it’s obviously bad but we’ve also seen it in Bristol, Norwich, Exeter, Reading. Usually a lot of bookings get cancelled, with no plans to rearrange them as well.

“It’s just the beginning, but I think we expect the trade to drop 20-25% this week.”

The strikes had turned “operational headaches into a real migraine” for hospitality companies, said Susannah Streeter, principal analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“As the transport network shuts down, reservations are set to plummet as the lucrative lunchtime crowd stays home and late-night revelers cancel reservations amid fears they won’t be able to get home at the end of the night,” Ms. Streeter said.

Shares of pub chain Mitchells and Butlers fell 1.4% on Tuesday amid concerns over a drop in consumer spending, while the owner of Wagamama, the restaurant group, fell 0.7 %.

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This notice was published: 2022-06-22 10:47:14

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