The GMB union has said Asda workers are “fed up” with working conditions as supermarkets in Wisbech, Brighton Hollingbury and Brighton Marina are currently voting on whether to take strike action

GMB London regional officer Keith Dixon told Retail Week that members in his region are reporting a litany of problems in certain supermarkets, including health and safety issues the union claims have led to injuries, fire safety breaches, cuts in working hours and a lack of adequate training.

The union alleged that the numerous issues across Asda stores are a result of “cost-cutting” by bosses as it tries to service its mountain of debt.

“I’m not saying it was perfect five years ago but it was better,” Dixon said.

“These things are happening on a daily basis and our concern is that it is getting worse. Colleagues want something to happen now.”

Retail Week has seen five images documented by GMB showing fire safety concerns at the Wisbech store, which is currently carrying out a ballot on whether to vote for strike action.

Dixon claims the union has accumulated “4,000 examples of fire safety breaches over three years” at various Asda stores, which have then been photographed, logged and sent to Asda management. 

The images below show a blocked emergency panic button and a blocked fire exit route at Wisbech.

An Asda spokesperson denied GMB’s allegations and said: “All of our colleagues undergo relevant health and safety training so they are aware of the correct protocols to follow in stores. Whenever we are made aware of a breach of this policy we immediately act to remedy that, and that is what has happened in the examples that the GMB has shared with us from our Wisbech store.

“We’ve requested specific details from the GMB regarding the alleged issues in our Wisbech store but have yet to receive this information. As soon as we have details of any issues in our stores we can look to remedy those as soon as possible.

“Since the Issa brothers and TDR took ownership of Asda less than three years ago, they have invested hundreds of millions of pounds in a number of strategic investments that position the business for long-term growth.

“These investments include building a nationwide chain of convenience stores from scratch (with over 300 currently open to date) and launching the Asda Rewards loyalty app – enabling customers to earn more than £300m to date.”

The first strike at an Asda supermarket took place over 48 hours earlier this month at Gosport, Hampshire, which the GMB said was a result of a “toxic” working environment.

When the threat of strikes at Wisbech and Brighton was announced, GMB national officer Nadine Houghton said: “Members want to know why they are being forced to do more work with fewer colleagues and worsening health and safety standards, while [co-owner] Mohsin Issa spends millions on mansions and private jets.”