Disability activists mob ATOS ‘poverty pimps’


by Sunny Hundal    
10:10 am - January 26th 2011

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On Monday, the Second National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts took place with events targeting ‘poverty pimps’ like Atos Origin and A4e.

Over 100 disabled protesters and claimants gathered at Triton Square, London where a noisy mob made their way to the front doors of Atos’ shiny corporate headquarters despite the best efforts of police to stop them.

Police formed a line protecting Atos whilst chants rang out of ‘Atos Kills’. Many people spoke out of their often heart-rending experiences at the hands of Atos’ medical testing which has repeatedly stripped sickness and disability benefits from the most vulnerable.


Picture by Pete Riches. More from the protest here

Anti-poverty and disability protest groups were well represented including Disabled People Against Cuts, Welfare Action Hackney, London Coalition Against Poverty, Mad Pride and many more. Also present were members of PCS Union’s Euston branch who work in Euston Tower which overlooked the protest and who expressed solidarity with claimants.

Over the top as ever, the police briefly kettled the protesters. After some time however people were able to leave if they agreed to be escorted from Triton Square.

Protests also happened around the country. Atos testing centres were leafleted in Nottingham, Archway and Glasgow. The protest outside Atos’ Scotland offices, reportedly in the middle of nowhere, still drew around 40 people and an equal number of police who surrounded the building and once again protected the poverty pimps.

Atos Scotland’s offices were forced to close for the day.

Benefit claimants have vowed to be back with a third National Day of Action to be announced soon.


Report taken from ‘National Protest Against Benefit Cuts‘ blog. This is an edited down version.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


If they can protest they can work.

@1

Brilliant. An otherwise marginalised group of people take the time to get organised and protest against despicable companies that the government seem ever more inclined to use and all you can do it use this as a stick to beat them with.
Words actually fail me (in keeping with the comments policy, at least).

@1 – Barry you are a shit.

@1 Of course there are lots of jobs going which are suitable for people in wheelchairs. People who are having chemo. And employers are always very sympathetic to people who have ups and downs in their illnesses – such as MS, ME, arthritis, psychiatric illnesses. Aren’t they?

But maybe Barry’s being ironic – like me?

Good story. Two things though – I’d find ‘disability protesters’ rather than ‘disabled protesters’ a better description, as I’m fairly sure not everyone there fell into either the set ‘disabled’ or ‘claimaint’.

Also, they seemed to be letting people out of the kettle from early on, just one at a time in one place.

Thanks for reporting this Sunny – puts you ahead of entire mainstream media .

As for terms to describe disabled, I always write “sick and disabled” it’s a pain (you have no idea, lol) but people with long term illnesses are usually totally unrepresented. Actually though on the whole, I don’t care what we’re called as long as people are writing about the protests and cuts we face.

Thanks for covering this issue, Lib Con. Thankfully contacts who were at the protest say that while the area was fenced, they were allowed out after a short time. However brief, kettling of anyone is terrible- but particularly kettling of a group whose health may be negatively affected by the experience. Have you guys heard about EDM 1344?:

http://samedifference1.com/2011/01/26/edm-1344-kettling-of-disabled-protestors/

Barry: Get lost.

@1, even some Atos medical testing centres and A4E job clubs don’t have wheelchair access, yet you presume most workplaces do. How funny! Haha.

@Barry: If you can breathe, you can work. Ban sick leave!

Sarah – Last time we found a “Barry” on a LibCon article, this was born :

http://diaryofabenefitscrounger.blogspot.com/2011/01/damned-if-we-do-damned-if-we-dont.html

Collaboration from disability bloggers.

David Cameron said : if you was Disabled or Vulnerable you have nothing to fear and you would actually get more help if he came into Government : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UvqmZlaAPY

Now it appears that the Disabled suffer this http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2010/12/recorded-hate-crime-nearly-doubles-in-one-year/

Just as a matter of interest, who are ATOS? I know what they do and who they do it for, but who owns them? Anyone we can boycott and/or write/e-mail to?

On the language – I’ve merely summarised from the blog post linked at the end… though I agree with the point, hence the headline difference…

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 2 Mr S Pill

“Words actually fail me (in keeping with the comments policy, at least).”

In what I have to admit is a rather likeable case of double standards, abuse of muppets like friend Barry here is generally deemed acceptable, both by this site’s mod/s and morally ;)

Thank you for posting this. As someone who is dealing with a long-term, incurable neurological condition which prevents me from leaving my house, it is nice to see some coverage finally. I’ve been doing what I can to fight these anti-disabled policies, but very few people/blogs/media outlets want to know. The only time they want to talk about the disabled is when they’re labelling us all as “scroungers” and “cheats”.

It is heart-breaking that in the year 2011 our government is attacking those who had the least to do with the financial crisis. Yet, because we are easy targets and most of us are too weak to fight back, the government sees fit to point the finger of blame at us and essentially say “Ignore the bankers who ruined everything, here’s some people too ill to work. Attack them!” What is worse is the part the pathetic slimefucks that are the Liberal Democrats have taken in these anti-disabled policies. We expect this rubbish from the Tories, but the LDs promised they would stick up for the disabled in coalition. Of course they’ve gone back on this and no LD blog or site wants to discuss this. Disabled peoples posts are routinely deleted from LibDem Voice, with not one article from them apologising or explaining their sudden change of stance. When I wrote to the LD minister for welfare all I got back was a party-political letter blaming Labour and not addressing any of my concerns or questions. As if that is of comfort to disabled people who are now in danger of losing their homes and very lifelines that keep us, well, alive.

Yet, here I am, struggling to type, dealing with the pain the monitor causes me and I am apparently to blame for all the ills in this world. I have cluster headache, which is one of the most painful conditions a human being can experience. Because I need morphine-like drugs and an Oxygen tank to function, all the problems with the country are my fault and the fault of thousands of others like me. Obvously. We’re treated inhumanely by ATOS and the DWP and denied our benefits (yes, I was found fit to work and had to appeal, which was successful) so this government can continue to buy aircraft carriers and engage in bloody wars. But let’s blame the sick and disabled!

Thanks again for giving us some publicity. We sick/disabled people don’t want anything more than we already have. We just want to live our lives with as much dignity and independence as possible. But with the coming cuts to DLA and targets the government have given ATOS, do not be surprised to see people who are mentally weaker than myself commit suicide. A leaked memo from the government admits this will probably happen. And the LibDems, now spineless, just sit there and claim that these anti-disabled policies are “progressive” and part of the “New Politics”. Again, I expect this from the Tories but there are no words to describe the feelings many of us disabled people have towards the Lib Dems, who lied when they said they’d protect us. Labour no longer cares about the disabled. The Lib-Dems were the last party who said they care about us; now there is no party who openly sides with disabled people or the long-term sick. Nobody is fighting our corner and we are frightened and stressed, which makes many peoples’ conditions worse. Thank you for standing up for us.

Atos have been rewarded for its pathetic performance with a new £300m three-year Government contract. Well done to the Government by awarding Atos a £3000 million pound extension on their contract to partner the DWP. (ensuring people on sickness related benefits will uultimately not be for much longer). Atos are supposed to employ “health professionals” to conduct the medical assessments, this is questionable, there have been serious concerns both about whether the people conducting the tests have sufficient expertise to fully understand the problems and difficulties people suffer and are the questionnaires fit for purpose. It is obvious that Atos are not conducting these examinations correctly by the number of tribunal hearings regarding Atos and DWP decisions and by the number of tribunals overturning these decisions in favour of the claimants. Target driven not people driven benefit systems will never work, people who are sick or disabled need support not sanctions. There will be more shocking decisions by Atos and more precedents set by the DWP and Government to penalise those who need the most help. Controversially rewarding thugs and cheats such as bankers, politicians, the director of communications at No 10 and Atos has been going on for long enough it is now time to make these people accountable. A formal expression of preference in the form of a proposed resolution to have Atos or GPs conducting medical assessments should be put to the vote to the British public. This could potentially have a saving of £10 million pounds annually by eliminating contracts that are not required. Keep fighting these poverty pimps remember it’s the British Public who can de-select Governments as well as elect.


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