Strike is ‘another dagger’ for small businesses crippled by Covid

Small business owners said they were struggling to survive as postal workers set to leave and amid the looming threat of rail strikes.

Matt Harris, 49, who runs wine bars Planet Of The Grapes and Fox Fine Wines in London, said the strike is just “another dagger” for already struggling hospitality businesses.

“The repercussions of Covid have been bad enough and we are still paying off the debts,” Mr Harris told the PA news agency.

“We are starting the week at a loss and have to work hard to break even.

“Every hotel business I have spoken to pays their HMRC tax bills in installment and deferred payments.

“And that basically tells you that they’re all, basically, bankrupt.”

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union were due to take industrial action from Saturday in a long-running dispute over wages, jobs and conditions.

However, the strikes were called off on Friday after the RMT said it had given railway bosses ‘the sense’ but added that ‘if we have to go on strike in the next six months to get a Okay, we’ll do it.”

Mr Harris said previous industrial action and the threat of further strikes were crippling his business and others in the industry, which lost customers on strike days throughout the year.

He said: “The government has allowed nine weeks of strikes throughout this year – which is a quarter of the weeks we have operated.

“And we received absolutely nothing to compensate for our loss of income.

“I support the fact that workers should receive proper and fair remuneration. But the problem is that the way they fight it causes more harm to other workers than to the bosses and the government.

“I think they should give subsidies to any business affected by a strike.

“And they should get tax breaks going forward so businesses can survive what will be a torrid few years ahead.”

Mr Harris said small business owners like him have gone from resilience to anger and are “fed up” with the lack of support.

“Until people realize how serious the situation is, nothing will happen,” he said.

Royal Mail workers are due out on two of the busiest online shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday.

Jessica Taylor, 36, who is a textile artist and illustrator and runs her own business, Loadofolbobbins, said postal strikes can be a ‘nightmare’ but stressed it was important workers received pay rises .

“Anything affecting the Postal Service can be a potential nightmare for me if I have orders to deliver,” Ms Taylor told PA.

“There’s always a chance for customers to get upset about delays or lost items.”

But it is in the interest of small businesses to support the strikers, as wage increases will help boost consumer spending, Ms Taylor said.

“What is so often forgotten when things like this happen is that all the workers on strike during this action are all my potential customers, so if their salaries go up significantly, that means that they have more money to spend with small businesses like mine.

“As a result, this means that I would be able to help create a healthy and stable economy.

“How many multi-million pound CEOs do you think I shop at my company?”

Jessica Taylor, owner of Loadofolbobbins

Jessica Taylor, owner of Loadofolbobbins, said it was in the interests of small businesses to see striker wages rise (PA)

Ms Taylor added that it’s a scary time for small business owners, many of whom have found it impossible to stay open in the face of rising costs and falling consumer spending.

She said: “It has definitely been a lot harder over the last year and a bit, and people are naturally spending less.

“People are really afraid of only being able to afford the essentials on a daily basis.

“I’m lucky that most of what I make isn’t particularly resource-intensive in terms of energy, but suppliers are driving up costs and for other businesses with small brick-and-mortar stores, or studios with ovens for example, it’s a really scary time. .

“I’ve already seen a number make the hard call to completely close up shop.”

Earlier this week, leading hospitality industry bodies warned that a third of UK pubs, restaurants and hotels could go bankrupt by the end of the year as the cost of running their business becomes impossible.

They said many hotel businesses were on the brink due to the “business cost crisis”, as energy bills and food prices soared.

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