Hospitality sector fears it could become 'collatoral damage' in industrial dispute

Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster. Photo: Phil Magowan/PressEye
Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster. Photo: Phil Magowan/PressEye

The industry body has urged government action to ensure that those in the hospitality sector don’t become “collateral damage” in the unrelated industrial disputes.

“Strikes and the threat of further actions from some important sectors present an extremely worrying outlook for the entire hospitality industry as we enter the Christmas period,” Colin Neill said.

The Hospitality Ulster chief executive said: “Potential impacts on the processing and supply of meat and the strike by Translink workers could have severe impacts if not urgently addressed.

"This is the time of year when hospitality businesses are prepping and planning to go full throttle in servicing the Christmas trade, parties and family get togethers.”

Mr Neill said the out workings of these respective actions “could have a disproportionate impact on us at a time when the level of expectation on us to deliver is huge,” and added: “We recognise the right to take industrial action and respect the fact that all other alternatives have been largely exhausted, but the unintended consequences for the hospitality sector could potentially be catastrophic.

"There needs to be swift intervention to alleviate many of the knock-on problems for our entire sector if things don’t get resolved soon.

"This is a red flag moment for our economy, and we need the Secretary of State to step in to make sure that the hospitality sector doesn’t become the collateral damage we fear it might.”

Speaking ahead of the first day of stoppages on Monday, the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) warned that the five-day strike could have a much longer-lasting effect – including distruption the normal supply of Christmas favourite products.

BMPA chief executive Nick Allen said a backlog of work at abattoirs – and pigs becoming too big and “out of scope” for the supermarket retailers – could lead to animal welfare issues as meat production plants suspend their operations.

The BMPA said the impact of a five-day stoppage could last for months.