Fuller’s boss calls on RMT to axe walkouts before Christmas party season

Pubs braced for raft of Christmas party cancellations due to rail strikes: Fuller’s boss calls on RMT to axe walkouts that are a ‘cloud on the horizon’ for staff and customers facing travel chaos

  • Next month marks first festive season since 2019 without restrictions for pubs
  • Fuller’s boss Simon Emeny said the World Cup had boosted venues nationwide
  • But he admitted concern over the RMT’s planned strikes just before Christmas 

A pub boss has called on the RMT to axe its planned rail strikes amid fears they could cause Christmas parties to be cancelled.

Next month marks the first festive season in three years without restrictions for hospitality firms, which suffered a financial pummeling during lockdown.

Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, which operates more than 380 pubs across the country, spoke today of the boost the World Cup had given to venues in recent weeks.

However, he explained the upcoming industrial action – which will see 40,000 union members across the rail network walk out on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 – was a ‘cloud on the horizon’ for the sector.

Next month marks the first festive season in three years without restrictions for hospitality firms, which suffered a financial pummeling during lockdown

Next month marks the first festive season in three years without restrictions for hospitality firms, which suffered a financial pummeling during lockdown

Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller's, said the upcoming industrial action - which will see 40,000 union members across the rail network walk out on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 - was a 'cloud on the horizon' for the sector

Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, said the upcoming industrial action – which will see 40,000 union members across the rail network walk out on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 – was a ‘cloud on the horizon’ for the sector

Who is going on strike and when?

Civil servants:  Around 100,000 civil servants have voted for a national strike over pay, pensions and jobs, the PCS union has announced. The dates are TBC.

Nurses: Strikes are expected to begin in early December and could take place over two dates, potentially a Tuesday and a Thursday. They could last until early May 2023.

Bus drivers: The workers will strike on December 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17.

Rail workers: Drivers working for 12 British train operators will go on strike on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 in an ongoing dispute over pay. There will also be a walkout on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

Postal workers: Take national strike action on Wednesday 30 November and Thursday 1 December 2022.

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Mr Emeny told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: ‘This is going to be our first Christmas since 2019 without restrictions, we’ve lost the last two, so bookings are absolutely excellent.

‘But unfortunately we do have a cloud on the horizon because in two weeks’ time the RMT have decided to announce some strikes.

‘If you’re an office and you’ve planned a Christmas party at a pub in London, that’s a big occasion, the first time you’ve got your teams back together since 2019 and people are now very worried about whether they’re still going to hold those events.

‘The people that will suffer the most outside the sector will be our colleagues who rely on the hours and the tips they get during those big events. 

‘So I would call on the RMT to cancel these strikes and make sure the hospitality sector can have the Christmas they deserve and that our colleagues can get some much-needed income in.’

Mr Emeny added that hospitality bosses were ‘natural optimists’ and said they have been telling customers they believe the strikes will be cancelled or postponed.

However, he admitted: ‘There’s only so long we can delay those enquiries about cancelling and really what we need is a speedy resolution, not a resolution at the last minute because people will have changed their plans by then.

‘Ideally, we’ll see this resolved in the next couple of days and we can still fulfil all these wonderful bookings we’ve got.’

Experts warned last week that Mick Lynch’s rail strikes could wipe some £1.2billion off the UK economy over the Christmas period, while other unions are also coordinating action to cause as much disruption as possible.  

As well as the walkouts, there will also be a ban on overtime working from December 18 to January 2. 

This will hit services on Sundays and other key dates such as Christmas Eve, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, when many travel to be with loved-ones and friends.

Experts warned last week that Mick Lynch's rail strikes could wipe some £1.2billion off the UK economy over the Christmas period

Experts warned last week that Mick Lynch’s rail strikes could wipe some £1.2billion off the UK economy over the Christmas period

More than 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies will walk out on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 and on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

Britain is facing a winter of discontent after 100,000 civil servants voted to strike as comrades on the rail network agreed new dates and nurses decided on taking industrial action for the first time in more than a century.

Britain is facing a winter of discontent after 100,000 civil servants voted to strike as comrades on the rail network agreed new dates and nurses decided on taking industrial action for the first time in more than a century.

The carefully chosen dates will disrupt people going out to watch the final week of the World Cup, as well as Friday December 16, known as ‘Black Eye Friday’ because it is the busiest night of drinking before Christmas. 

The tournament in Qatar has been a big boost for pubs since it began on November 20, Mr Emeny said, ahead of tonight’s huge Battle of Britain between England and Wales in Group B.

‘It’s going to be the biggest of the three group matches, a Home Nations fixture with a lot hanging on it,’ he said.

‘We as a company and a sector will be crossing everything for an English victory because they will then play a last 16 game on Sunday at 7pm which will be great for pubs, so we’d get a great day and an even better day on Sunday.

‘It’s very much additional bookings [that the World Cup has produced] – for the first match last Monday, takings ranged from up 30%-40%.

‘There’s no better place to watch an English victory or performance than in a pub with your friends and family and colleagues, it’s a much more enjoyable experience than watching it at home.

It doesn’t displace [Christmas bookings], it’s incremental, which is why we need England – or Wales – to get as far as possible for the sector when we’ve had a difficult two or three years, so we’ll be crossing everything for an England win at Fullers today.’

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