Yorkshire businesses concerned they will lose thousands during rail strikes
Train drivers union Aslef said its members will call for their first pay rise in four years when they stage a series of strikes between Saturday, December 2 and Friday, December 8.
The last strike is expected to cause severe disruption for Northern and TransPennine Express passengers and both operators will also be forced to make cancellations when Aslef imposes an overtime ban over the first nine days of December.
Businesses which are part of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s Hospitality Forum are urging union leaders, train operating companies and the government to resolve the dispute and avert any disruptive strikes.
They claim industrial action would lead to “a hugely damaging” drop in footfall at a time when many small businesses rely on “a much-needed upswing in trade”.
It comes after UK Hospitality warned the rail strikes will “devastate trading during one of the busiest weeks of the year” and cost hospitality businesses up to £800m.
Andrew Pericleous, chair of the hospitality forum, said: “Christmas is the period in which hospitality does its highest levels of trade.
“These latest strikes will disrupt that and cost small business owners thousands of pounds in lost revenue. These are not large corporations, rather very small-scale employers that families rely upon for their livelihood.
“Given the scale of the impact, we urge the union to reconsider its plans for further strikes this December.”
Aslef said it has agreed pay deals with 14 operators in the last 12 months, including freight firms and passenger companies in Scotland and Wales.
But the union said it has been unable to agree a deal with 16 train operating companies in England.
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan has said the union is “determined to win this dispute and get a significant pay rise” for the first time in four years.
But it comes as the Government is urging operators to cut costs and become less reliant on taxpayer-funded subsidies, after their revenues plummeted during the pandemic.
Aslef has held 14 one-day strikes during the 18-month dispute, causing huge disruption to services across the country.
Strikes have also been held since June 2022 by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, who are now voting on a deal aimed at resolving their dispute.
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, said: “This wholly unnecessary strike action called by the Aslef leadership will sadly disrupt customers and businesses ahead of the vital festive period, while further damaging the railway at a time when it is still getting an extra is £175m a month in taxpayer cash.
“The fair and affordable offer made by industry, which would take average driver base salaries for a four-day week from £60,000 to nearly £65,000, remains on the table.
“We urge the Aslef leadership to put it to its members, give Christmas back to our passengers, and end this damaging industrial dispute.”