Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a national week of action against Atos Origin beginning on Monday 9th May. It is vital that people support this campaign and that more people are made aware of the insidious work that this company does.
Last year, Atos was awared a £300 million contract (PDF) with the Department for Work and Pensions. This is "to support the UK government’s welfare reform agenda." They will "deliver medical advice and assessment services" so as to "help people to move into and progress in work." Which, beyond the double-speak, means booting as many people as possible off welfare.
When Liverpool Solidarity Federation last picketed their offices, we heard a number of anecdotal stories about this - including an older man who was declared fit for work on the basis that he could (barely) hold up two plastic bags containing Yellow Pages, and a guy whose report on the stress he was suffering from was compiled without any input from him at all. But Atos's failures go far beyond anecdotes.
The Herald reported that "two claimants, both from West Dunbartonshire, died from the conditions which caused them to claim Incapacity Benefit (IB) while waiting for appeals to be heard against cuts to their benefits."
They can only be the tip of the iceberg, given that Atos has wrongly denied benefits to 30,000 people over two years. Yet the government still claims 500,000 people on sickness benefits are "fit to work." At the same time, they are looking to take two million people off disability living allowance. This is nothing short of an attack on the most vulnerable in society.
If you are in Liverpool I urge you to join our picket of Atos's offices. Assemble in The Plaza, Old Hall Street, at 11.30am on Monday 9th May. Bring flags, banners, and placards.
If you are in London there is a picnic and party in Triton Square, home of their head office, on the same day. Other events around the country are listed on Facebook here, and if one hasn't already been arranged then feel free to take the initiative and set it up yourself!
An injury to one is an injury to all. We should all stand in solidarity with those being targetted to show Atos and the government that these injustices will not stand!