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“If this isn’t intimidation, I don’t know what is – it’s a very clear message to anyone: How dare you protest against us and, if you do, we’ll find you fit for work!” Anti-Atos protester Joanne Jemmett with the sign left by Atos workers outside the assessment centre in Weston-Super-Mare on Wednesday (“Fit enough to protest – fit enough to work!”) at the start of this short film documenting the demonstration there.
Watching the stories stack up in the wake of the national day of protest against Atos last Wednesday has been very interesting.
The immediate response was that Atos has approached the government, seeking an early end to its contract. This deal, under which Atos administers the hated Work Capability Assessments to people on incapacity or disability benefits, would have been worth more than £1 billion to the company over a 10-year period.
Allegedly, company employees have been receiving death threats, both during and after the protests. We’ll come back to those shortly.
The Conservative-led Coalition took this development in the way we have come to expect – spitefully. A DWP spokesperson said that the company’s service had declined to an unacceptable level, and that the government was already seeking tenders from other firms for the contract.
This is what happens when bullies squabble.
Atos is the big bully that has just had a shock because the other kids in the playground stood up to it and made it clear they weren’t going to stand for its nonsense any more. We’re told that all bullies are cowards and it appears to be true in this case – Atos went running to the bigger bully (the government) and said it was scared. The government then did what bigger bullies do; it said Atos was rubbish anyway and set about finding someone else to do its dirty work.
Here’s the sticking-point, though – as the BBC identified in its article: “The government was furious with Atos for leaking information it believes to be commercially confidential… If Atos wants to pull out early, some other companies may pay less to take those contracts on than they otherwise would.”
I should clarify that companies don’t actually pay for contracts; they offer to carry out the work at the lowest prices they think are viable, in competition with other firms. The government chooses the company it feels is best-suited to the work. In this situation, it seems likely that the possibility of death threats may put some firms off even applying.
So let’s come back to those threats. A spokesperson for the organisers of Wednesday’s demonstration tells us that pickets took place outside 93 Atos centres, across the UK. Most of these were very small – averaging 30 people or less (I can confirm that in Newtown, Powys, a maximum of 15 people attended at any one time). Brighton and London were bigger, but 12 demos had only one person present.
“That is really funny because, as you have seen, Atos are saying they had to close down all their centres for the day – up and down the country – because of huge hoards of scary, threatening disabled people issuing death threats,” the spokesperson said.
“All demos were peaceful and no trouble or arrests were reported.”
In the spokesperson’s opinion: “Atos have been planning to step down for a long time because they weren’t making enough profit and just used our tiny little demos as an excuse.”
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and sister group Black Triangle issued a joint statement: “The bizarre exit strategy Atos have developed in identifying apparent physical threats on Facebook despite the growing lists of real deaths caused by the WCA regime is an outrageous insult to all those who have died and all those who have lost family members through this regime.
“It is an insult to those left without their homes, without money and needing to go to food banks.
“It is an insult to every person who has suffered worsening physical and mental health through this inhuman regime.”
The statement also poured water on any government claim that other companies had been put off bidding for the contract:”The alphabet corporations – G4S, A4E, SERCO, CAPITA – are already lining up to take over the multi-million profits and the mantle of the new Grim Reapers. The misery imposed by this Government and the DWP will continue as long as its heinous policies continue.”
I would strongly urge all readers to put their support behind the remainder of the statement, which asserted: “The Work Capability Assessment must also end.
“The reign of terror by this unelected Coalition Government which has awarded itself pay rises and cut taxes for those earning more than £150,000 while piling punishment, poverty, misery and premature death on everyone else in its policies of rich against poor must end.
“Make no mistake – we will continue to demonstrate against ATOS, now delivering the complete failure of PIP in which claims are being delayed by up to a year.
“We will demonstrate against any other company that takes over the WCA contract.
“We will continue to demand the immediate removal of the WCA, and the removal of this Government.”
In my article on the Bedroom Tax evictions taking place in my home town (yesterday) I made it clear that too few people are bothering to pay attention to the evils of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government. That article received a huge response, garnering almost four times the readership of other recent posts within just 24 hours.
The situation described in this article is much worse – people aren’t being evicted from their homes; they are being forced off of the benefits that have kept them alive, pushed – by the government! – towards destitution, despair and death through either suicide or a failure of their health that their Atos assessment results deny should ever take place.
Today’s article should have more readers, after the success of yesterday’s – but we’ll have to see, shan’t we? If fewer people read it, we’ll know that they all just looked up for a moment, thought, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and went back to whatever distraction keeps them happy in the face of impending government-sponsored pain.
Any attempt to inform the public will fail if the public stops paying attention.
Let’s keep it focused where it belongs.
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Reblogged this on Ace News Services 2014 and commented:
#ANS2014 says it all #mustread
Reblogged this on ActivistPoster.
Croydon stayed open and continued to do assessments all day – with a riot van outside to police half a dozen people, some poetry and a guitar
jean macmillan said:
it was the same in Hull business as usual
allan j said:
gloster stayed open,G4S ere eyeing us for most of the day, but then they have little more to do than stare out the window or strut around allday looking important (joke). 2 wanabe cops left at about 12:30, there was a presence of 6 to 8 protesters all day has it was beyond some being to ill to stay more than a hour or to so in total around 15 -20 protesters coming from upto 10 miles or so, also several staff from the jobcentre coming out and saying they were in full support of us for varying reasons, this seems to be a common them mr ids
Alan M Dransfield said:
Déjà vue Norman Scarth and those not familiar with the WW2 Navy veteran should utube his name
Bob Sleigh said:
FIT enough to collect their gov. ££handouts, but not FIT enough to do the WORK!!!
Thomas M said:
If Atos was threatened, then it’s because disabled people are being given the choices of slave labour, homelessness and starvation, or depending totally on their family.
That could not work for me, because I have no family or any relatives.
Gordon Powrie said:
I must admit, when I heard the ‘death threats’ excuse on the BBC R2 News, I thought, ‘There’s a surprise, the BBC are reporting that rather than anything about the demo’
Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog.
The thing is though, many people will believe that the death threats have been made more than the amount of people who have actually died because of Atos and the Government + that awful WCA.
I would like to see the actual death threats that have come from people and not just from those who where planted to make this alleged threats!
And how about the people that came out of Atos somewhere, and stood with the protesters, doesn’t that tell us something, doesn’t that tell the public something?
Ah, I forgot, the public are not interested in anything except the TV, their computer games etc.
Mike Sivier said:
We all say this about the public, don’t we – that they’re not interested. But…
I was a member of the public in that way until I reached the limit of my patience and started getting active.
Weren’t we all?
There has to be a point that everybody reaches, when they say enough’s enough. I think it is our job to guide everyone else to that point (or as many people as we can).
There are two things I just do not understand;
1) If Atos were receiving alleged “death threats” then why did they not report them to the police? After all, they were quick enough to write to the web hosts to have the websites taken down that they considered to be libellous
2) Why do we need Atos/G4S/Capita whomever to carry out these assessments? If a GP or NHS specialist says you are NOT fit for work or won’t be for a certain period of time then that should be the end of it.
Reblogged this on kickingthecat.
Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7) said:
Capita has gotten off to a rough start (lengthy assessment delays) while G4S, A4E, and SERCO have piss poor reputations.
Skintus Maximus said:
I was at the protest in Southend on Sea, we had 27 people turn up. The office was closed while tree surgeons removed tree’s damaged by the recent storms. We could not have threatened an ATOS employee because none were there. We did have some fun taking the piss out of the ‘security guards’ who were on FULL ALERT the whole time.
The Police paid us a visit and didn’t feel the need to return. We had a damn good day that ended without incident.
I’m not sticking up for atos, I couldn’t and I woukdn’t, but one of the main problems is the DWP, who have too much power and they are happy to shift all of the blame onto atos. The DWP are the main decision makers, yes atos have blood on their hands, but so do the DWP, and we can’t do anything about them.
When Atos goes whoever will take over, will probably be just as bad because the dwp will be fixing results that they don’t like!
Saying that, as for any death threats, they reap what they sow!!!!!
Bill Hayes said:
…and when the new company taked over, they will probably hire half of the ATOS staff, many of whom it seems have been acting without humanity.
Not if it is G4S, they have their own thugs!!!! They don’t need anymore, plus they have incredibly thick skin!!!
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Reblogged this on glynismillward189.
It is a great pity there has not been a far greater outcry from doctors about this downgrading of their authority in this. As Joanna says, the doctor has already stated that the person is unfit for work so there is no need for any assessment at all. Is there no legal class challenge that can be made on those grounds?
It is very distressing about the evictions. There has been some success in Ireland and America with the community coming together to stop them happening by questioning all the paperwork and double checking it is all in order as often it is not and by just blocking it. If there were enough people to question the stupid fact that the appeal date was after the eviction surely that could have been stopped in the name of common sense.
There are also some very interesting community developments in Pennsylvania stopping big corporations coming in and ruining local water and farming. They are turning things around by starting from the presumption that we have a right to these things and housing could also be a right. Don’t local authorities have a duty to house people, especially the elderly and the disabled?
The key is coming together – divide and rule has worked brilliantly as benefits street demonstrated.
ATOS treated me so badly it left me with a profound psychological fear of being examined by anyone other than my GP again and I told my GP this and then one thing went wrong after another and not a year later I am worse than when I first saw ATOS! I had a terrible assessment and my assessor never listened to me an then I saw my report I cried because it was a tissue of lies an absolute tissue and I knew then that I had no where to go and no one to turn to and hence my money was stopped just like that because I appealed last April and to date nothing has been done for me and no decisions have been made. ATOS started my assessment and it hey who have the power in their hands to give me a decent and fair examination and clearly they did not. Don’t always blame the DWP because they are 50% hand in hand with ATOS and they pay ATOS don’t they?
Mike Sivier said:
I think it’s right to blame the DWP – without a mandate from the government, Atos could not have done anything at all.
Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating and commented:
If there were any real death threats made, most likely these were either anonymously posted or emailed to the company or were done via phone calls to the main switchboards. I doubt they were made directly to any person doing an assessment by the person being assessed.
We go into those rooms absolutely sh** scared, nervously hoping we dont give them any reason to mark us fit for work, and praying they realise how disabled and incapable of work we are.
Reblogged this on Social Action.
Samwise Gamgee said:
Could the end be in sight for Universal Credit?
“Universal Credit: Government’s welfare reform ‘may be scrapped after next election’”
If this is the case, this should be the end of IDS regardless of who wins the next election. Roll on 2015…
Slightly off-topic Mike, but have you heard about Cameron wanting people who challenge sanctions to be charged for doing so!! I call this really sick!!!!
Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.
Anthony Owen said:
We’ll be more organised for the next so bring it on :o)
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Reblogged this on anonnorthwales's Blog and commented:
Well, the claim about death threats is kinda true, except in the reverse direction. After all, doesn’t telling someone with a heart condition that they have zero points constitute a death threat?
*singing along to Queen* We will, we will kill you!
Actually, the LiMA software we developed was never designed to kill people by denying their benefits, it was designed simply to deny their disabilities. How else is your government to force people back into work when even their doctors know they shouldn’t yet be working again? The fact that we’re laughing all the way to the bank on the backs of you poor suckers is just a very desirable side effect.