Friday 14 March 2014

Giving New Traders A Fair Go

The Oxford Dictionary defines a bully as “A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.” Sadly we have instances of bullying in our own Queen Victoria Market and it is often inflicted on casual stall holders.

Recent analysis of the trading conditions for casual traders identified a number of instances of bullying. Bullying is usually related to the competitive pressures within our market. An established trader may be upset at the placement of a casual trader perceived as competition or perhaps at the impact of the new trader’s stall setup. We are often not great at adjusting to change.

Many of our disputes within the market are settled with amicable discussion. It is a credit to traders generally that despite our close confines, the fact that we are competing with each other for business, and despite all our religious and cultural differences, we generally get on together very well. This makes it even more difficult to understand why some established traders take advantage of new traders and make their life difficult.

There are a few points to make here. Firstly bullying is totally unacceptable. There are rules and procedures related to bullying in the schoolyard and in the workplace. Secondly, if a trader has problems with a casual stallholder placement, it is a market official, not the casual trader, who should be questioned.  And thirdly any trader who is aware of bullying should ask the offender to stop – peer pressure can often diffuse unsavoury behaviour.

Casual stall holders are a very important part of our market. They are potentially our future but to get there they have to endure uncertainty and frustration as they navigate the casual allocation system. Let’s give our casual traders a fair go. They may be the magnet that drags more customers to our market.