Pubs, restaurants and hotels warn December strikes will cost them £1.5BILLION in sales

Britain’s struggling pubs, restaurants and hotels will lose a whopping £1.5billion in sales if rail union barons push ahead with strikes this month, hospitality bosses have warned.

The staggering predicted losses came as Downing Street today threatened to push ahead with tough anti-strike laws after rail union chiefs snubbed the latest pay offer last night – with a Christmas of travel chaos now almost certain.

Talks broke down after train operators made an 11th-hour bid, offering an eight per cent pay rise over this year and next – around the same in percentage terms as the 4.5 per cent awarded to most nurses for 2022-23.

But militant RMT boss Mick Lynch rejected the offer because it is conditional on reforms such as the closure of ticket offices, in a move that is set to consign millions of Britons to yet another Christmas of disruption – the third in a row, after the chaos of the coronavirus lockdowns.

Now leaders within Britain’s hospitality industry are begging unions to call-off their staged walkouts amid fears it will cause devastating losses that some businesses may not be able to recover from. 

Talks broke down after train operators made an 11th-hour bid, offering an 8 per cent pay rise over this year and next - around the same in percentage terms as the 4.5 per cent awarded to most nurses for 2022-23. But militant RMT boss Mick Lynch rejected the offer because it is conditional on reforms such as the closure of ticket offices

Talks broke down after train operators made an 11th-hour bid, offering an 8 per cent pay rise over this year and next – around the same in percentage terms as the 4.5 per cent awarded to most nurses for 2022-23. But militant RMT boss Mick Lynch rejected the offer because it is conditional on reforms such as the closure of ticket offices

Hospitality bosses have now warned that future strike action could see pubs, hotels and restaurants lose £1.5billion in sales. Pictured is a stock image of two punters enjoying a pint

Hospitality bosses have now warned that future strike action could see pubs, hotels and restaurants lose £1.5billion in sales. Pictured is a stock image of two punters enjoying a pint

Hospitality bosses have now warned that future strike action could see pubs, hotels and restaurants lose £1.5billion in sales. Pictured is a stock image of two punters enjoying a pint

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality – which represents the sector – said: ‘The sheer number of strike days that have affected Britain’s hospitality sector this year has been unprecedented and the strikes in December will no doubt be the toughest yet, with hospitality businesses set to lose £1.5 billion in sales. 

‘Businesses, workers and our customers will feel the brunt of it, with lost business, disrupted travel and plans being cancelled.’

Sacha Lord, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, said many businesses could be forced to shutdown in the new year if the strikes go ahead.

Mr Lord, who co-founded Parklife festival, told MailOnline: ‘Businesses could face catastrophic losses if these strikes go ahead. Christmas is when you can get a third of your annual turnover. To lose this would be devastating. 

‘Considering two years ago we didn’t have a Christmas because of lockdown and last year people were cancelling booking left right and centre because of Covid, the last thing any of us need is for train strikes and the knock-on effect of more cancellations.’

Sacha Lord (pictured), chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, said many businesses could be forced to shutdown in the new year if the strikes go ahead

Sacha Lord (pictured), chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, said many businesses could be forced to shutdown in the new year if the strikes go ahead

Sacha Lord (pictured), chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, said many businesses could be forced to shutdown in the new year if the strikes go ahead

The warning has been echoed by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which today claimed a number of small brewers this weekend were forced to close for good following on-going strikes and soaring energy bills. 

Nik Antona, national chairman of the organisation, said: ‘Pubs, clubs, breweries and cider producers are in an impossible position, facing a perfect storm of rising costs, soaring energy bills and customers tightening their belts. 

‘While the Christmas period usually offers some relief to our beloved locals, driving footfall and sales to offset the incredibly difficult “Dry January” period, the proposed strikes may also affect pub business due to uncertainty about travelling to and from Christmas parties and family events.

‘Just this past weekend we have seen a number of small brewers calling last orders and shutting up shop, which has devastating effects on consumer choice. Pubs are cornerstones of our communities, bringing people together and helping to tackle loneliness and social isolation. We can’t risk thousands of our locals closing for good because they can’t afford to operate in the current climate.’ 

A No10 spokesman today warned it is keeping laws that would make it harder to legally call strikes under review (pictured, MPs and union officials at a rally in Westminster)

A No10 spokesman today warned it is keeping laws that would make it harder to legally call strikes under review (pictured, MPs and union officials at a rally in Westminster)

A No10 spokesman today warned it is keeping laws that would make it harder to legally call strikes under review (pictured, MPs and union officials at a rally in Westminster)

Last month it was revealed that around 50 boozers are closing every month amid soaring costs, business leaders have warned.

At least 69 pubs closed down between January and June in England, Scotland and Wales, according to figures from the CAMRA.

However, from July to the end of September, more than 150 boozers went under as the pressures of rising costs mounted, a study by Altus Group found.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, warned the strike action would only deepen Britain’s boozer crisis.

She tweeted: ‘Awful news for our industry at a critically difficult time. Week of the strikes usually the busiest of the year for our pubs. Much needed business will be lost and impact felt incredibly hard in the months that follow, we need a resolution now.’ 

Pubs across the UK have been forced to shut down as they struggling with soaring costs and energy bills. Pictured is The Bell in Shepton Mallet on July 25

Pubs across the UK have been forced to shut down as they struggling with soaring costs and energy bills. Pictured is The Bell in Shepton Mallet on July 25

Pubs across the UK have been forced to shut down as they struggling with soaring costs and energy bills. Pictured is The Bell in Shepton Mallet on July 25

The warnings come just days after the heads of the British Beer & Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping, Night Time Industries Association and Association of Town and City Management wrote an open letter to rail union bosses, pleading them for the strike chaos to end. 

They said: ‘The last three years have been a monumental struggle for the hospitality industry and this winter was already set to be the toughest yet. The prospect of strikes in such a critical phase of trading only exacerbates this. 

Winter of discontent: Met Office is the latest public body to join mass walkouts as it prepares to announce strike plans this week 

The Met Office is the latest public body to join the mass public sector walkouts, as it prepares to go on strike.

Forecasters are set to announce their backing for industrial action this week along with health and safety inspectors, chemical weapons scientists at Porton Down and experts tackling bird flu and Covid.

The government are so far unwilling to meet the demands of £28 billion inflation-matching pay rises across the public sector.  

Nadhim Zahawi, chairman of the Conservative Party, risked angering unions further yesterday when he said that nurses should accept a real-terms pay cut to ‘send a message to Putin’.

‘Make no mistake – businesses will be forced to close their doors as a result of this and for some it may be the last time they do so. We urge you in the strongest terms to come to a settlement as soon as possible.  

A No10 spokesman today warned it would change strike laws ‘if needed’ to smash the power of the unions plotting walkouts every day to December 25. Proposed laws include bringing in minimum-service legislation where workers are forced to ensure a certain level of services are maintained on strike days.  

Furious Conservative MPs accused militant unions of trying to ‘hold the country to ransom’.

Brendan Clarke-Smith told The Telegraph: ‘People should be able to go about their business and look forward to the Christmas period with their loved ones. It’s not right that they should have their festive plans ruined by the RMT trying to hold the country to ransom. They have turned the public against them with their behaviour.’

Ex-rail minister Paul Maynard added: ‘This is a Christmas catastrophe for rail passengers. Every time the RMT turns its back on the need to modernise the railway, it hammers another nail in the network’s coffin. Passengers will simply not return the longer the RMT strikes.’

Industry sources told the paper that the RMT leadership ‘need to cancel the strikes and to put this to their members’.

Asked whether Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wanted the RMT to put the offer to its membership, the spokesman said: ‘That fundamentally is a decision for the RMT.

‘But we do think this is the right offer, it is a significant improvement on what they were offered before and we are confident it represents a good offer for their membership that provides them a significant uplift in pay and certainty they will get a further uplift the following year.’

The spokesman said the strikes could still be avoided: ‘We continue to urge the RMT to think again. There is still time.’

Rail workers, ambulance staff, firefighters, teachers, security guards, cleaners, porters and driving examiners are also planning action that will affect every day until Christmas

Rail workers, ambulance staff, firefighters, teachers, security guards, cleaners, porters and driving examiners are also planning action that will affect every day until Christmas

Rail workers, ambulance staff, firefighters, teachers, security guards, cleaners, porters and driving examiners are also planning action that will affect every day until Christmas 

The deadline for avoiding chaos when the first round of strikes begins next Tuesday is midnight tonight (pictured, Royal Mail workers holding signs outside a Royal Mail depot)

The deadline for avoiding chaos when the first round of strikes begins next Tuesday is midnight tonight (pictured, Royal Mail workers holding signs outside a Royal Mail depot)

The deadline for avoiding chaos when the first round of strikes begins next Tuesday is midnight tonight (pictured, Royal Mail workers holding signs outside a Royal Mail depot)

Mr Lynch said: ‘We have rejected this offer as it does not meet any of our criteria for securing a settlement on long-term job security, a decent pay rise and protecting working conditions. 

‘If this plan was implemented, it would not only mean the loss of thousands of jobs but the use of unsafe practices such as driver-only operated [trains] and would leave our railways chronically understaffed.’

However, the union will take more time to consider a new offer from Network Rail, which is also involved in the dispute. 

The Government-owned agency last night tabled a nine per cent salary increase for this year and next, up from eight per cent, plus a 75 per cent discount on season tickets and bonuses for lower-paid workers.

If this offer is accepted, it would drastically reduce winter disruption as Network Rail employs critical workers such as signallers. The RMT is due to make a decision today.

The deadline for avoiding chaos when the first round of strikes begins next Tuesday is midnight tonight, as staff such as drivers are rostered a week ahead. The bid already rejected by RMT is the first made by train operators since national strikes began in June; Network Rail made its first offer months ago.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the RMT’s rejection was ‘incredibly disappointing’, adding: ‘Passengers should receive the service they’ve paid for. This deal will help get trains running on time.’ 

It came as ministers confirmed they are ready to draft in up to 600 members of the Armed Forces to deal with wider winter strikes. 

Nadhim Zahawi, the Tory chairman, said the Government was considering using the military to drive ambulances, fight fires and staff borders. An extra 700 staff from the specialist Surge and Rapid Response Team, as well as 700 civil servants, are being trained for this.

Rail workers, ambulance staff, firefighters, teachers, security guards, cleaners, porters and driving examiners are also planning action that will affect every day until Christmas. 

The unions are fighting for sharp pay rises for members to reflect inflation, which is running at 11 per cent.

But government officials say this is unaffordable, and would cost the taxpayer more than £28billion.

The RMT threw the Christmas plans of millions into chaos this month by calling four 48-hour strikes between December 13 and January 7 for workers on mainline rail services in England. 

There will also be an overtime ban between December 18 and January 2, which could lead to hundreds of last-minute cancellations.

The TSSA rail union yesterday said its members for Network Rail and eight train operators will join the RMT in walkouts. 

RMT bosses had been locked in talks with government officials, Network Rail and 14 train companies represented by the Rail Delivery Group over the weekend.

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