Disability activists picketed the recruitment day at the London offices of Atos Healthcare who carry out the discredited 'health tests' to determine fitness to work of claimants and deny them benefits. London, UK. 14th June 2011
Disability activists picketed the recruitment day at the London offices of Atos Healthcare who carry out the discredited 'health tests' to determine fitness to work of claimants and deny them benefits. London, UK. 14 June 2011
The 'Giz A Job - Atos Origin Recruitment Day' picket by around 50 people including those from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), London Coalition Against Poverty, Mental Health Resistance Network and Winvisible Network made clear to the few people who came to the recruitment evening the nature of the testing carried out by Atos, which signs off many clearly disabled people as "fit for work." In doing so, Atos is clearly wrecking the lives of some of the most disadvantaged in our society, in some cases leading to their deaths. The protesters put it more simply: "Atos Kills!"
People with terminal illnesses, in the advanced stages of MS and with debilitating mental health problems have all been told they are capable of work. At least one person has actually collapsed and died in the test centre following such a decision, and several have been driven to suicide by their despair at Atos decisions.
Around 70% of those who appeal against the results of these tests are successful, but the appeals are slow and difficult for many of the disabled. By the time appeals are held and granted people are often due for their next six-monthly test, where they are often again wrongly found fit to work, requiring them to appeal again. At least one man killed himself when he heard, after two successful appeals he had been turned down for a third time.
Atos tests use a computer based system that simply fails to take into account the very different nature of disabilities, and relies on those administering the test to make snap judgements as to which box to tick which often entirely misrepresent the person being tested. One poster carried by a protester highlighted the case of June Mitchell, who failed to achieve any score as disabled on the Atos test despite suffering terminal lung cancer.
Having been standing behind barriers erected by the police for around an hour, the protesters decided to be a little more active, and walked around the barriers to continue the protest directly outside the offices. Police tried hard to keep a clear route on the pavement and asked the protesters to keep moving but otherwise allowed the protest to continue.