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I run a small business and rail strikes before Christmas will be crippling

Composite image of Wilko Johnson, Guy Smiley and Mark Harper
This is what got readers talking today (Picture:

Independent business owners are voicing their concerns that train strikes before Christmas will impact their ability to earn a living.

But, on the other hand, others are backing the RMT trade unionists by saying that the criticism should be directed at the government instead.

Meanwhile, music fans have sprung to the defence of Dr Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson, who died aged 75 last week.

It comes after a reader described his technique as ‘entry-level riffing’, a description that another reader said was ‘a mean-spirited obituary’.

Read on to see what else readers are talking about.

These strikes are making my life hell

■ I totally agree with restaurant owner James (MetroTalk, Tue), who says the RMT strikes in the week before Christmas are ruining people’s lives.

It’s the busiest and most profitable week of the year for lots of businesses and individuals and they are on strike for four days! I’m a freelance mixologist and was expecting to work hard that week to help deal with this cost of living crisis, which is not easy for me either.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to work now because I live in Milton Keynes and will not be able to travel to London where all the shifts are.

And, while I’m at it, for God’s sake, Avanti West Coast, please reduce the amount of first-class carriages – they sit empty while we can’t fit in the standard ones. Me and another lovely lady are standing in between the carriages (inside the connecting pod) en route from Milton Keynes to London Euston. Ieva, Milton Keynes

A stressed man goes through his finances at the dining table
Small business owners say their income will take a hit during rail strikes (Picture: Getty Images)

■ I have a kiosk at our local station so will have to close during the strikes because there will be no passengers.

It’s been bad enough throughout Covid. I don’t get paid for being closed or get a reduced rent so these strikes are making my life hell. These four days of strikes will see my Christmas takings out of the window.

I’m all for a fair wage but these strikes don’t take us small businesses into consideration and we matter, too – nobody is giving us a pay rise. We haven’t had one in three years.

I have no staff left because I can’t afford to pay them and I haven’t had a holiday in three years. How is that fair?

So, come on, strikers – have a little consideration for us struggling small businesses and look at the chaos this is causing. Irene, Kilwinning

Privatisation of rail system has failed

RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch
RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch (Picture: PA)

■ Transport secretary Mark Harper says he doesn’t have a ‘bottomless pit’ of taxpayers’ money to pay for the pay rise being demanded by rail workers (Metro, Mon). That’s funny, Mark, the railway has been run by the private sector for quite a few years now. So, surely it shouldn’t be taxpayers’ money paying the wages of profit-making private companies. Unless, of course, privatisation has failed. Richie, Eastbourne

■ While I feel for James the restaurant owner, my business has already gone down the pan – thanks to former prime minister Liz Truss and her chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng.

Just before their disastrous mini-budget, I started my own mortgage brokerage, having newly qualified as a mortgage adviser. Because of their policies and the knock-on effect to the mortgage markets, buyer confidence and lack of affordability with hikes in interest rates, I have had to close down.

Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and former PM Liz Truss
Former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and former PM Liz Truss (Picture: Reuters)

It cost me thousands of pounds in qualifications and business fees. I’ve lost a few thousand pounds. Nobody helps me out. No government assistance. Nothing. We are all at the mercy of stupid government decisions.

Rather than blaming the strikers, why don’t you direct your anger at the government? They are to blame for a bad pay deal for rail workers, nurses, healthcare assistants, NHS staff and fire service personnel etc. Barbara, Gloucestershire

■ If there is goodwill between the employers and unions, an agreement can be reached. The new transport secretary’s willingness to act as an intermediary is a very positive sign. Al, Charlton

Let us celebrate a showman

■ Denise Gordon (MetroTalk, Tue) clearly has no idea about guitarists if she thinks Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson, who died last week, played ‘entry-level riffing’. Try playing Going Back Home, which Johnson wrote with Roger Daltrey, the correct way. Not so ‘entry-level’. Kevin, Suffolk

■ Wow, what a mean-spirited little obituary! Wilko Johnson’s greatness was as much about his showmanship, charisma and self-reflection as it was about his technical ability. Mick, Bromley

Wilko Johnson performing on stage
Wilko Johnson performing about a month before he passed away (Picture: Lorne Thomson/Redferns)

A host of reasons to make me smiley…

■ Gordon from Glasgow (MetroTalk, Mon) replies, ‘Major Tom to ground control’, whenever the train station announcer says, ‘This is…’ Any time a game-show announcer says, ‘And here’s your host…’ I can’t help but respond, ‘Guy Smiley’. Tina Kyeremateng, London

And another thing…

■ To Stephen (MetroTalk, Mon) who is annoyed by fare-dodgers bunking through the barrier behind him. Try backing away from the barrier and saying loudly, ‘Please, after you.’ So polite and non-confrontational. Works for me. Nettle, Sutton

■ To John (MetroTalk, Mon), despite what you say, UFOs do exist and if you don’t believe, you are very small-minded. I’ve seen one. I know what I saw. Nothing could move as quickly as that did. Steve, Kent

A mocked-up image of a UFO in Utah
Is alien life out there in our skies? (Picture: Getty Images)

■ My parents cranked up the central heating when I was young, whereas my grandmother’s flat was cold. My early years working outside were torturous in winter until I took heed of my grandmother and turned down the heating to lessen the contrast. Forty years on, I find most people’s homes uncomfortably overheated, so it is possible for the fit and healthy to adapt. Robert Hughes, London

■ Bus travel has changed so much since the 1970s. Back then, people queued in an orderly fashion, while access to the bell these days is at times impossible. In London, we still have stops with red signs labelled ‘Request Stop’ but every stop appears to be a request stop now.

As for the bus driver writing to MetroTalk saying he takes delight in leaving his passengers behind at the bus stop if they don’t look up from their phone – we are not all on our phones, it’s just that we don’t see him as the most important person in our lives. Michael, Chingford

Start a text with VIEWS followed by your comment, name and where you live to 65700. Standard network charge applies. Or email Helpline for Views: 020 3615 0600. Full T&Cs on Metro is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation. Comments may be edited for reasons of legality, clarity or space.


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