Record number of pubs to open on holidays

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A record number of pubs will be open for business as usual on Christmas Day amid concerns that workers are being deprived of an essential end-of-year break.

A record number of pubs will be open for business as usual on Christmas Day amid concerns that workers are being deprived of an essential end-of-year break.

Thousands of managers and staff will work on 25 December as some of the country's largest pub chains seek to cash in on a growing trend of eating away from home. About 42,000 employees of the Chef & Brewer chain will be serving meals and drinks on Christmas Day and JD Wetherspoon, Britain's largest pub chain, will be opening half of its 460 pubs.

A survey by the industry newspaper, The Licensee & Morning Advertiser, found that Bass Leisure Retail will open most of its pubs for lunchtime trade and Punch Retail is offering its managers a share of the bar takings as an incentive to working during the holidays.

The gradual erosion of the traditional 25 December holiday for non-essential services has provoked concern from the shopworkers' union Usdaw. The union launched its "Protect Christmas Day" campaign this week amid predictions that a record number of food stores will be opening across Britain.

The union has criticised chains such as Sainsbury's, Woolworths and Budgens for extending opening hours this year. Budgens plans to open an additional 17 stores and Woolworths said it was reacting to the demands of a multicultural society by opening three London stores.

Usdaw's political officer, Ruth Stoney, said: "The danger is that once a few big ones open, the others will follow because they feel the need to compete."

A spokesman for the Chef & Brewer chain, which rewards staff with double pay on Christmas Day, said: "We try to accommodate the personal needs of staff but we find many of them enjoy covering the Christmas shifts as the atmosphere is festive and fun."

The Church of England said it was relaxed about pubs opening on Christmas Day. A spokesman said: "We have no problem with them opening and certainly no problem with them displaying a real community spirit."

Pub and restaurant staff may accept unsocial hours as normal but the Christmas holiday is also being eroded in newer industries. At First Direct, the 24-hour online bank, 33 staff will be answering phones at its call centre on Christmas Day, and 500 Vodafone staff will be at work in the customer services department.

Comments