FURIOUS traders have condemned a group of strikers after they urged people to boycott Bolton Market.
About 60 striking workers, who claimed to be Unison members, distributed the leaflets at 10am this morning inside and outside the market.
Leaflets were handed to people inside the market's seated food hall and were also left on windows of cars parked nearby.
Market traders reacted angrily to the move, accusing the strikers of "scare tactics".
The leaflets stated traders had “refused to support their fellow workers” in their fight for fair pay.
But the market traders, who are self-employed, say that while they support any union’s right to strike, as independent traders, they would go home penniless if they did not work.
The A5 size leaflets, which are unbranded, also suggested the market was “unsafe” without health and safety officers, fire wardens and cleaners on site.
Unison bosses said the leaflets were intended as a “light-heartened protest”.
But Tony Frame, at Salmon Kings, said he felt victimised by the move.
He added: “I can’t understand why they want to come here to intimidate the general public.
"It’s underhanded scare tactics. They got in customers’ faces and told them they were ‘scabs’ — they should be ashamed of themselves.
“We support what they are doing but they are distributing leaflets saying that we don’t.
"We have been victimised. No other market has ceased trading but they have picked on us.”
Jane Mclaren, trader at The Shoe Box, said: “It mentions the safety of the market. I am the fire warden to make sure that the place is safe for customers.
"Their argument is not our argument. We are self-employed people and we have been really badly hit by this.”
Allan Woodcock at TXC records said he would like to discuss the issue with the people behind the “damaging” leaflets.
He added: “What has annoyed me is that the leaflets say we have refused to fight with our fellow workers.
"Well firstly they are not our fellow workers. We are self-employed traders.
“Secondly there is no name on these leaflets so it is unlikely anyone will take any ownership for them.
"We don’t want this happening again. All we do is come out and work.
"If we don’t do that then we have got no money. This is damaging for each and every trader here.”
The offending leaflet
A Unison spokesman said: “We have checked with local union officials who were present in Bolton.
"They confirm there was a spontaneous and light-hearted protest around the Bolton market area as people were on their way to a rally at the town hall.
“The union denies that there was any victimisation or intimidation. There was no intention to cause distress to traders or customers.”
- Hundreds of council workers gathered in Victoria Square and at picket lines across the borough in one of the largest walk-outs the town has ever seen in a row over pay.
The National Union of Teachers was also on strike as part of a dispute over pensions, pay and conditions of service.
It is estimated about 90 per cent of council workers, teachers and fire fighters from Unison, GMB, Unite, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Fire Brigades Union went on strike in anger at national changes to pay, pensions and working conditions.