Wisbech Asda’s pandemic hero stood alongside his colleagues on the picket line today (Friday) for the first day of strikes this Easter weekend.  

Geoff Norris was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2020 for taking special care of the vulnerable and elderly during the pandemic.  

He was also invited to the King's coronation last year. 

The kind shopping delivery driver co-ordinated a team of volunteers who were a lifeline for customers that needed items from the store.  

He politely refrained from talking to the press about why he had joined his colleagues to strike, but said he was there representing his colleagues with the union GMB.  

Wisbech Standard: GMB members from Asda Wisbech hit the picket lines on Good Friday.GMB members from Asda Wisbech hit the picket lines on Good Friday. (Image: Louise Hepburn)The trade union said over 170 of its members at Asda Wisbech were taking part in the strikes, with 82 hitting the picket lines outside the store. 

Some had been there since the walkout began at midnight.  

Loud music, horns and whistles kept the atmosphere upbeat throughout.  

Passing drivers were also sounding their horns and cheering from their car windows.  

Wisbech Standard: Keith Dixon, GMB Regional Organiser, on the picket line for Wisbech Asda.Keith Dixon, GMB Regional Organiser, on the picket line for Wisbech Asda. (Image: Louise Hepburn)Keith Dixon, GMB Regional Organiser, said: “We are all stood here today because the working conditions are untenable. 

“Our members have been forced to endure cuts to hours, training has been non-existent and the health and safety conditions are shocking.  

“There’s also a toxic bullying culture from the management team and everyone feels as though they have targets on their backs constantly.  

They've had enough of it – and are fighting back by standing here on the picket lines.” 

Wisbech Standard: Asda Wisbech workers on the picket lines.Asda Wisbech workers on the picket lines. (Image: Louise Hepburn)The strikes began at midnight on Good Friday and will end at midnight Tomorrow (Easter Saturday).  

The store, in Leverington Road, has remained open throughout.    

Even though Beth Kitching left her job of more than 10 years at Wisbech Asda a fortnight ago, she joined her former colleagues.  

She claims to have been pushed out of her job because the management were trying to make her work hours she couldn’t do because of childcare arrangements.  

Wisbech Standard: Beth Kitching worked at Wisbech Asda until a fortnight ago.Beth Kitching worked at Wisbech Asda until a fortnight ago. (Image: Louise Hepburn)Beth, who worked on the pizza counter, said: “I’d worked here years before having children and had an excellent working arrangement with my manager. It worked for both of us. 

“Then in January I had to start doing set hours and there were discussions about that for a little while. But they couldn’t work for me because of my childcare situation. 

“I felt I was being punished for wanting to work after having children – and was made to feel that way in meetings with bosses.  

“The way they speak to staff there, even in front of customers on the shop floor, is not right.” 

She added: “Being here today has made me feel much better about things; it has made me realise I’m not the only one having problems.  

“It has made me feel proud to be part of something that I really hope could lead to positive changes here.”  

An Asda spokesperson said it is “disappointed the GMB has taken this course of action” but the store will remain open as usual over Easter.  

He said: “We have taken practical steps in Wisbech to address the points raised by the GMB and will continue to engage with their representatives with the aim of reaching an amicable solution for all parties.”  

Meanwhile, earlier this week GMB announced its members at Asda in Lowestoft have also voted in favour of strike action.

Dates are to be announced.