Businesses across the capital are bracing themselves for further hardship as the this week’s train strikes over workers’ pay threatens to deliver a “fatal financial blow” to some traders.
The leisure and hospitality industries alone are set to lose £1 billion over the coming weeks as access to London’s West End restaurants, bars and theatres is severely curtailed by the actions of train staff, on instruction from the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), that will grind the capital to a halt tomorrow (Tuesday), Thursday and Saturday.
London companies are still reeling from the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, skyrocketing energy prices, inflationary pressures and a cost of living crisis, with business leaders condemning the action at what has become a precarious financial crossroads for most businesses.
Rail unions are also reportedly planning for a six-month long strike that could cause transport chaos on the UK’s rail network until Christmas.
Kate Nicholls, CEO of trade body UKHospitality, said: “For a devastated hospitality industry beginning its tentative post-pandemic recovery, the planned strike action might deliver a fatal financial blow to those businesses already struggling to survive.
“Three days of strikes will cost the sector £540 million across the week, based on a 20% drop in sales where a typical June week sees takings of £2.75 billion.”
Ros Morgan, chief executive of Heart of London Business Alliance, said: “The rail and Tube strikes will impose another lockdown on the West End at a time when central London’s economy needs all the support it can get.
She said that additional train strikes could choke off “the recovery of London” and create “real economic damage” to the city.
Jane Gratton, head of people policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said strikes would “place additional pressures on businesses at a time when they are facing rising cost pressures and struggling to recover from the pandemic.”
A spokesperson for the CBI, added: “Strike action is particularly regrettable at a time when the economy is under such strain and the railway industry is seeking to bounce back from two years of disruption and heavy reliance on government subsidy.”