STRIKE action is to shut Ellesmere Port Market throughout the Easter weekend.
Cleaners and duty supervisors who are members of the unions UNITE, UNISON and GMB are striking over changes to holiday and overtime pay.
The staff, employed by Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), will strike on Friday, Saturday and Monday – the market was already due to be shut on Easter Sunday.
All 157 stalls will have to close and Easter-themed events planned at the market have been called off.
Neston Market will also be closed on Friday only as a result of strike action there.
The move has infuriated traders, who say they were given very little notice of the strike.
Brian Hannaway, chairman of the traders, said: “Some of the traders are so far behind in rent and electricity payments. The council haven’t settled the last claim for industrial action yet. This could tip a few over the edge.
“We were looking forward to a busy Easter. They’re depriving us of making a living.
“I understand if they’re not happy with the new conditions but when you’re jeopardising other people’s livelihoods why can’t they get agency staff?”
Union members are unhappy about changes to their terms and conditions, effective from Monday, which mean cuts to pay enhancements for weekend and bank holiday working.
This weekend is the first the changes will take effect, so staff would be paid a normal rate for working from Good Friday to Easter Monday, instead of time-and-a-half or in some cases double pay.
The unions informed the council on Friday of their plans to strike, but the council chose not to tell traders until Tuesday as it tried to reach an agreement to keep the market open.
UNISON representative Ray McHale was involved in tabling a compromise offer rejected by the council in December and said: “There are negotiations going on with the council with the possibility of trying to avert any action.
“The last time the market was closed they had to give people the rent back for stalls and compensate them for lost income.
“I don’t know another council in the North West trying to pay a flat rate for overtime and bank holidays.”
The Tory-led council says the new contracts are necessary to harmonise terms and conditions between employees of the four legacy authorities which were replaced by CWaC in 2009. It hopes they will save £4m per year.