Thursday, 27 June 2013

Glasgow ATOS, Anniversary Picket.


Glasgow Against ATOS, 1st Anniversary Picket.

Friday 28 June, 12:30 - 14:30
Corunna House,
Cadogan Street,

       Another article by Glasgow Activist J. C. highlighting the vicious attack by this government on the ordinary people, in particular the brutal assault on the disabled and vulnerable in our society.

ATOS: Government approved Contract Killers!
    ATOS is a French multi-national company who have been employed by the Department of Works and Pensions to assess claimant’s fitness for work. In Glasgow their work capability assessment centre is based at Corunna House in Cadogan Street in the City centre.
       ATOS use a points based computer system to assess people. The majority of people who go through the ATOS process end up with no points or very few points; even severely disabled people or people with chronic illnesses or serious mental health problems have been declared fit for work by ATOS. We call the ATOS assessment centre at Corunna House “Lourdes” - because of its miraculous ability to cure people.
      Doctors who work for ATOS receive only eight days training in disability, and have found patients with severe M.S. and terminal cancer to be fit for work!
      ATOS’s brutal and insensitive treatment of the disabled has attracted widespread criticism from many sources. The General Medical Council are investigating allegations of improper conduct against twelve ATOS doctors, and two ATOS employees are under investigation after referring to patients as “parasites” and “down and outs”.
     The British Medical Association has condemned the ATOS assessment procedure as being not fit for purpose. Many M.P.’s have criticised ATOS’s brutally insensitive treatment of the disabled. Michael Meacher M.P. led a commons debate on this matter on the 17th of January this year and criticised almost every aspect of its operations including the thousands of people who have died after ATOS have decided they were fit for work. You can see his speech on YouTube.
      A lady called Joyce Drummond recently quit her job at ATOS. Joyce worked as a nurse there but had to leave when she could no longer carry out what she was supposed to do. Joyce has gone on record and given many newspaper interviews about how ATOS assessments really work. She has explained that these are not genuine assessments but just an excuse to deprive people of their entitled benefit.
     The assessment starts well before you reach the assessment room. In fact, patient’s behaviour and abilities are observed from the moment you enter the building. When people go from the waiting room to the assessment room it is noted whether or not they are well presented, are they tidy, have they done their hair and make-up? And so on.
      Seemingly innocent questions are asked by the assessors:
  • Do you have any pets – this can be linked with ability to bend to feed and walk.
  • Do you look after someone else – parent or carer- if you do this will be taken as evidence of functioning
  • Any training, voluntary work, socialising will be used as evidence of functioning.
  • Can you use phone, computer, or washing machine?
  • Can you manage bills?
     A whole range of dirty tricks is used against patients, because the ATOS assessments have nothing to do with fairness or compassion, or reorganising the benefits system, - it is all about taking money from the poorest and neediest in society.
     Joyce Drummond says that in her opinion the money given to Atos and spent on tribunals should be given to NHS GPs. They are best placed to make assessments regarding patients work capability. They have access to all medical reports, past history, specialist input and know their patients.

        How do ATOS decisions affect individuals and families?
Well, everyday there are stories in the papers describing the devastating effects of the decisions reached by ATOS.
       There are stories of people who are unable to work being left without any means of financial support.
       There are stories of people dying while awaiting results of their appeals after an ATOS assessment.
     There are stories of people committing suicide after appearing before ATOS.
      Nick Barker a farm labourer who had a brain haemorrhage which paralysed him down his left side and left him struggling to walk killed himself just before he was due to go up on his appeal. The coroner said the benefits assessment was the key to the tragedy.
      A lady called Linda Wootton, who had a heart and lung transplant was declared fit for work by Atos; her husband received the letter as she was dying in Hospital.
      I don’t intend to go through case after case, or pile on statistics and facts and figures; you can check all these things out online.
      Instead let me tell you what we are doing about ATOS.
      Glasgow against ATOS is committed to getting rid of ATOS and having them replaced by a compassionate and humane assessment procedure. In order to do this we campaign in every way we can.
We believe one of the most effective ways to campaign is through direct action. It is our experience that you can talk to politicians and officials till you are blue in the face and they will ignore you, but if you occupy their offices and invade their space they might actually have to do something.
       Over the past year, Glasgow against ATOS in conjunction with Citizens United and disability rights campaign group Black Triangle have carried out occupations of the Commonwealth Games office (who are sponsored by ATOS), and various banks and building societies who have dodged paying income tax,- If big business paid their taxes there would be no need for cuts of any kind. We have also confronted politicians face to face and at their offices and homes.
     On the last Friday of every month we have a picket outside ATOS at Corunna House starting around 12.00 a.m. Some of us stay there and leaflet and talk to people coming and going to their assessments, while the rest go on what we call a rolling picket. We go through the city centre with banners and a megaphone and hand out leaflets and bring the scandal of ATOS to public attention. Recently two of our group were arrested during one of our pickets for using the megaphone and will appear in court in June and July. We hope that activists and groups will support our demonstrations outside the court on these days.
We produce tons of leaflets, posters, banners and stuff like t-shirts to help raise public awareness of the immoral activities of ATOS and the plight of ATOS victims.
      We raise funds to pay for all of this; - we recently had a fantastic fundraising night which raised almost a thousand pounds. In addition to this we have had discussions with the trade unions at ATOS although we think that they are a bit unhappy with us after we occupied their offices at Corunna House a couple of weeks ago.
     Our fight ties in with the bedroom tax campaign because the majority of families affected by the bedroom tax will have a disabled member who has probably suffered at the hands of ATOS at some point.
What is really going on?
      There is a war going on in society, a war between the people at the top - the ruling elite and big business, and the people at the bottom. A war between rich and poor, a war between the needy and the greedy!
This is a Class War!
     This is no exaggeration, working class people are the victims of this war and thousands of working class people die every year as a result of the war on the sick, disabled and unemployed.
What can we do? - Join the Fightback!
      How do we do it? - Get together, come up with ideas, produce leaflets, talk to each other and involve others, Take an interest – become involved in Glasgow Against ATOS or other campaigning groups.
Don’t Moan, - Organise! Don’t get Angry – Get Even!
Visit us on Facebook at Glasgow Against ATOS.

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