On Thursday 22nd a dozen people, including members of benefit claimants' groups Black Triangle and the Crutch Collective, Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World, Glasgow Anarchist Federation, Glasgow Solidarity Federation as well as other individuals took part in the hour long picket of the Co-Op Bank and supermarket on the same street in central Glasgow.
On Tuesday the 28th of august members of Hull Solfed were joined by disabled activists in staging a protest outside the local office of official Paralympics sponsor Atos. Like similar demonstrations happening simultaneously around the country we wanted to shine a spotlight on Atos and its practices. Employed by the DWP to carry out work capability assessments declaring sick and disabled people 'fit for work', Atos uses an inhuman computer programme to do the testing, and trains its staff to push people off benefits. They profit from destroying the rights and lives of disabled people.
Know your rights!
Some brief advice on the process of appealing a failed Work Capability Assessment (WCA), as well as some signposting to relevant advice bodies who may be able to assist you.
When you first receive the results of your ATOS WCA and it is a fail, the first thing that many do, as they are panicked and desperate, as they have had their money stopped, is to panic and phone the Job Centre Plus and ask about signing on for Jobseekers Allowance, which is what they want you to do, but there is an alternative and that is by asking for a reconsideration and/or appeal.
How to request reconsideration/appeal
On Monday 9th May, Liverpool Solidarity Federation organised a picket of the offices of Atos Origin. This was as part of a national week of action against the company, being paid millions by the government to throw disabled people off benefits.
Atos's contact with the DWP to carry out "work capability assessments" is worth £300 million. Their system has previously provoked concern from the very doctors who carry them out, and over 8,000 appeals are heard every month for Employment and Support Allowance alone. Three people have even died as a result of having their support removed, and at the time of their death still awaiting the results of their appeal.
This morning we got together with local benefits campaigners to picket ATOS Healthcare, the private company paid millions by the government to force people off sickness benefits by reclassifying them as 'fit for work'. They do this by using an automated system to over-ride the judgement human doctors, as part of the wider attacks on claimants and workers, which began under Labour and are currently being accellerated by the coalition government. Below is the text of the leaflet we distributed to passers-by, many of whom stopped to share experiences of friends and loved ones who've had their benefits cut arbitrarily.
ATOS Healthcare: Poverty pimps putting profit before the welfare of people with disabilities
As part of the the 3rd National Day of Protest against Benefit Cuts West Yorkshire Solidarity Federation organized a picket of the ATOS Origin regional headquarters (who carry out medicals for the DWP) followed by a picket of A4e and Best who get paid for getting people into low paid employment.
About 20 people turned up including WYSF, AF, SWP and a guy who’d come from Manchester despite having walking difficulties.
Outside ATOS there was a noisy presence and a “photo opportunity”, where a professional photographer took various photo’s, don’t know where these ended up.
Following this we headed off to A4e/Best. Along the way we lost the SWP who disappeared and never turned up at A4e/Best.
Members of Brighton SolFed supported a 20-30 strong protest and picket at ATOS healthcare in Brighton today as part of a national day of action against benefits cuts. The protest was organised by the Brighton Benefits Campaign (BBC), a group of claimants and workers fighting the cuts to welfare provision. ATOS is a private company paid millions of pounds to stop sick and disabled peoples benefits by declaring them 'fit to work' via a computer programme, which has given absurd diagnoses such as describing hand amputations as 'mild' and thus no barrier to work.
Today, as part of a national day of protest against benefit cuts, Liverpool Solidarity Federation picketed the offices of ATOS origin in the city centre. We were supported in our action by members of UK Uncut Liverpool.
We were there to raise awareness of the role being played by ATOS in the government's war against disabled people.
The company is being paid £300 million by the government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’. The assessments are supposedly aimed at finding out if people receiving sickness benefits are fit to work. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible and save the government money.