Cutting disability benefits kills! That was the message from campaigners who protested at the ATOS benefits testing centre at York Place, Edinburgh on 16th December. At the same time people demonstrated at ATOS in Glasgow, London and around Britain, as part of the UK wide month of action against ATOS and the unfair sickness benefits tests.
Participants distributed Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty leaflets and plastered the ATOS building with posters and banners, all denouncing ATOS and urging that no-one face them alone – anyone called in to one of the pernicious ATOS tests should always take a friend or adviser with them. And if refused benefits you should always appeal – 40% of appeals are successful, rising to 70% when the claimant is represented.
One man coming out of the premises told ECAP how he had himself suffered at the hands of ATOS when they had disqualified him from sickness benefits. He told us that he had written a letter of complaint, pointing out that it was ridiculous that a nurse employed by ATOS could over-rule his own Doctor. “Keep up the good work,” he urged.
A couple of demonstrators went inside to discover the name of the local ATOS manager, to start to identify the guilty people carrying out the government’s dirty work. Unsurprisingly no-one from ATOS was prepared to speak to us, but when we persisted we were informed the ATOS manager to contact was Caroline Crouch on 0207 830 4233 – a London number of course. Campaigners are running an ongoing phone blockade of ATOS this month, so readers may wish to let Ms Crouch know what they think of ATOS treatment of the sick and disabled, while the multinational rakes in £500 million from its lucrative government contract.
A ECAP spokesperson said:
“Now a government adviser is proposing that people undergoing chemotherapy for cancer will be subjected to these disgusting tests. We need to get organised and take direct action to resist, or things are only going to get worse.
These attacks on the sick and disabled are all part of the wider attack on the majority of us, to try and make us pay for the greed of the rich and the crisis in their chaotic capitalist system. We aim to be back at ATOS in the New Year, with more people and ready to carry out some creative direct action. Anyone interested, please get in touch.”
Contact ECAP firstname.lastname@example.org
Info on the UK wide month of action against ATOS here