Strike action over alleged asset stripping and cuts in hours is spreading among staff from a major supermarket owned by Blackburn’s billionaire Issa brothers.

Earlier this month, GMB union members working for supermarket giant Asda staged their first ever-strike at a store in Gosport, Hampshire.

GMB has blamed the superstore’s shareholders, Mohsin and Zuber Issa, along with private equity firm TDR Capital, for allegedly continuing to asset-strip Asda at pace.

Now, following the Gosport strike, it is believed almost 400 union members from stores in Wisbech in Cambridgshire, Brighton Hollingbury and Brighton Marina, will vote on whether to take industrial action until March 5.

Indignation has grown among Asda staff, with GMB saying workers are angry at cuts in hours, poor health and safety, inadequate training, lack of collective bargaining (rights to negotiate on pay and conditions) and a failure to resolve equal pay concerns.

On Friday February 9, members of the GMB at Asda’s Gosport store walked out until midnight on Saturday February 10, over claims of a “toxic working environment”.

It is believed staff rejected a company offer aimed at resolving the row.

Regional GMB officer Nicola Nixon said: “Counter-proposals have been made to the company to settle the dispute but Asda has failed to come back with any improvements.

“Our members should be able to come to work without the threat of bullying or putting their health, safety and wellbeing at risk.”

Bury Times: Mohsin and Zuber IssaMohsin and Zuber Issa (Image: Archive)

READ MORE: Blackburn's Issa Brothers owned EG Group sells majority of UK business

An Asda spokesperson said at the time: “We have met the GMB on several occasions recently, including mediation at Acas, to try and agree a fair solution for all colleagues in Gosport.

“The proposals we put forward include the appointment of an independent third-party organisation to establish the facts regarding GMB’s complaints and report back jointly to both parties.

“Unfortunately, this proposal was rejected by the GMB membership. As most Gosport colleagues are not members of the GMB and will continue to work as normal during this period, we are confident there will be minimal disruption to our operations.”

According to reports, the GMB believes an estimated eight million hours have been cut from the shop floor in the last two years, which has resulted in a reduction in staff costs by tens of millions of pounds.

The threat of more industrial action comes after news announced earlier this month that Asda wants to open 110 more stores as part of its goal to reach 1,000 shops across the country.

Blackburn’s Issa brothers bought Asda in 2020 for £6.8 billion.

READ MORE: Issa brothers' EG Group sell KFC branches to repay debts

The brothers also own EG Group, which is headquartered in Blackburn.

In October, EG Group announced it would be selling the majority of its UK business to Asda.

That same month, Asda announced a commitment to cutting prices as it completed its £2 billion acquisition of EG Group’s UK business.

In December, news broke that EG Group would be offloading its KFC franchises to help pay off its debts.

READ MORE: Details of Mohsin Issa’s relationship with accountant made public

At the beginning of February, The Telegraph reported that Zuber Issa was allegedly seeking to sell-off his stake in Asda and return to the brothers’ original business running petrol stations and takeaways.

Meanwhile, the Lancashire Telegraph published on February 3, details of Mohsin Issa’s relationship with his former tax partner, Victoria Price.

Revelations came about after the relationship with Mr Issa raised questions of a 'conflict of interest', as he was the director of a firm, Asda, being audited by Ms Price’s former firm, EY.

An Asda spokesperson said: “We value feedback from our colleagues and have established processes in place for them to address any concerns. We've requested specific details from the GMB regarding the alleged issues in our Wisbech and Brighton stores but have yet to receive this information.

"We’re also waiting for them to share details of the alleged issues they have found in the Gosport store too. While any potential disruption is unwelcome, we are confident this can be managed and these stores will remain open as normal for our customers. This was demonstrated recently in Gosport, where fewer than 30 colleagues participated in industrial action.”