London’s Bars, Restaurants Face $270 Million Hit From Strikes

A wave of strikes on Britain’s rail network and the London Underground will cost bars and restaurants in the UK capital some £210 million ($270 million) in lost revenue, according to an estimate from trade group UKHospitality.

(Bloomberg) — A wave of strikes on Britain’s rail network and the London Underground will cost bars and restaurants in the UK capital some £210 million ($270 million) in lost revenue, according to an estimate from trade group UKHospitality.

Workers from the RMT union were set to begin another round of industrial action on Thursday. With negotiations inactive, there’s no end in sight for the walkouts that have hobbled the country’s railways on and off for more than a year. 

The strikes — over pay, working conditions and job security — involve about 20,000 union members at 14 train operating companies. Further action is planned for July 22 and 29. Tube workers, meantime, are planning rolling strikes from July 23 through July 28.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive officer of UKHospitality, said Thursday and Saturday’s rail strikes could deliver a £50 million hit to the sector, while next week’s tube strike could result in a £160 million impact.

The labor action comes at a busy time of year when school holidays begin in much of the UK, leading to fears families will cancel planned trips to London.

David Moore, owner of the Pied a Terre restaurant in Fitzrovia, described the strikes as a “schoolyard bullying tactic” by the unions. “People just don’t book, they’re not coming into London,” he said, estimating that his business stands to lose £5,000 in revenue a day during the strikes. 

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, called on the government and rail companies to come to the table, saying he and his team of negotiators are “available 24/7” for discussions. 

The Department of Transport, in a statement, said the government had met with the unions and “facilitated improved offers on pay and reform.” It urged them to take the offers to their members.

Overtime Ban

The RMT actions coincide with a weeklong overtime ban from the Aslef drivers’ union, the second this month. Another week of overtime bans is planned for July 31 to Aug. 5. 

The strikes will cause disruption for commuters and families alike, according to the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators. “This will lead to disappointment, frustration and financial strain for tens of thousands of people,” it said in a statement.

UK labor unrest extends beyond the rail network. England’s senior doctors are staging their first walkout Thursday after voting for industrial action last month. The protest will see consultants at hospitals across the country walk out for 48 hours, with a second two-day strike set for next month. 

Last week, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government signed off on pay rises for millions of public sector workers, which were recommended by independent pay review bodies. 

NHS Disruption

The British Medical Association, which represents the senior doctors striking Thursday, as well as junior doctors who walked out for five days earlier this month, has called the government’s 6% pay raise for consultants “derisory” and hasn’t budged on further protests.  

“My door is always open to discuss non-pay issues, but this pay award is final so I urge the BMA to end their strikes immediately,” UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay said in a statement. 

The NHS will see further disruption as radiographers strike for 48 hours next week. 

“This could undoubtedly be the most severe impact we have ever seen in the NHS as a result of industrial action, with routine care virtually at a standstill for 48 hours,” said Stephen Powis, national medical director of the NHS.

–With assistance from Sabah Meddings.

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