Benefit claimants fight back! – Nottingham and national coverage of action against ATOS Healthcare on 30th September 2011

17 towns and cities around the UK saw actions and protests outside Atos offices as part of the National Day of Action Against Poverty Pimps Atos ‘Healthcare’ who work on behalf of the Dept. of Work and Pensions.

ATOS are responsible for carrying out the notorious Work Capability Assessment, a ruthless health testing procedure which has led to thousands of sick and disabled people being denied or stripped of vital benefits.

Full report: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/national-day-of-action-against-atos-round-up/

More on Nottingham action including photos and video of occupation of ATOS Healthcare examination centre on Stoney Street: http://nottssos.org.uk/2011/09/21/national-day-of-action-against-atos-30th-september-nottingham-event/
Nottingham Indymedia report: http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/2053

See also: ‘Independent’ testing for Mobility Citycard in Nottingham: http://ncclols.blogspot.com/2011/09/ncc-brings-in-atos-style-independent.html

More on Notts SOS about opposition to welfare cuts: http://nottssos.org.uk/tag/benefits/

National Day of Action Against ATOS – 30th September – Nottingham event – reports & photos added

NEWLY ADDED POST-EVENT: reports and photos via Nottingham Indymedia:
1. Photos in Hockley and outside ATOS: http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/2051
2. Photos of ATOS occupation and arrests: http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/2052
3. After release of one arrestee on bail http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/2050

Take action against ATOS Origin and the ‘Poverty Pimps’ in Nottingham on Friday 30th September 2011. Join us for the National Day of Action against ATOS Healthcare and the government’s attack on benefits for people with disability and illness through the ‘Work Capability Test’ and the Welfare Reform Bill. ATOS Healthcare (a division of ATOS Origin) have the Dept of Work & Pensions contract to carry out medical assessments using a proprietary computer program in local assessment centres using medical and admin staff with very questionnable conduct (see previous article about their antics: http://nottssos.org.uk/2011/08/22/atos-healthcare-medical-examiners-admin-under-fire-for-bad-mouthing-customers-and-improper-conduct/ ).

Nottingham local event: ATOS leaflet Nottingham Sept 2011

Join us for a demonstration and leafleting in Nottingham on Hockley (Goose Gate) Friday 30th September 2011 at 12.00pm (ATOS is on Stoney Street). Facebook details at http://tinyurl.com/nottsatos

Groups campaigning in Nottingham to protect welfare include:

Background

Atos Origin have £300 million contract with the Con-dem Government to continue carrying out ‘work capability assessments’. It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible. This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by ATOS Origin’s computer. Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit. To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful. Atos have now extended their harassment of sick and disabled by using legal threats to silence websites which have been critical of them, see the Benefit Claimants Fightback website below for more details. http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

More attacks on benefits coming up: Terminally Ill to have benefits stopped – under Welfare Reform Bill plans, ‘contributory-Employment and Support Allowance’ (c-ESA) will be time-limited to one year from April 2012. Terminally ill people who have accessed c-ESA since April 2011 may lose all out of work help in just six months as a result.

More by Notts SOS about benefits: http://nottssos.org.uk/tag/benefits/

Press Release
Towns and cities around the UK will see protests tomorrow (30th September) against Atos, the IT Company responsible for carrying out the con-dem government’s Work Capability Assessment. As part of a National Day of Action Against Atos, organised by disability, claimant and anti-cuts activists, people will be gathering outside Atos’ offices in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Brighton, Chatham, Cheshire, Birmingham, Glasgow, Hasting, Norwich, Oxford, Bristol, Chester, Plymouth, Sheffield and York.

In London a demonstration is being held outside the BMJ Careers Fair where Atos will be exhibiting in an attempt to recruit doctors to work on their Disability Assessment teams. Thousands of people have been denied or stripped of vital benefit because of decisions made based on Atos’ assessment procedure which involves a short interview and a computer based test. Many people have had conditions worsened, either by being forced into the workplace, having much needed money withdrawn or the stress of the assessment process, which has been described as relentless. Sadly some have taken their own lives after hearing of Atos and the DWP’s decisions to remove their benefits. Even people with cancer and other terminal illnesses have been deemed ‘fit for work’. The government has pledged that this form of testing will be extended to all disability and health related benefits.

This week over one hundred groups and individuals signed a letter to the BMJ and the RCN urging them to stop allowing Atos to recruit at their events and in their publications: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/open-letter-on-atos-healthcare-to-the-bmj-and-rcn/

An online protest will see companies and organisations which do business with Atos contacted and informed of this company’s ‘callous and cruel’ treatment of disabled and sick people.

Supporters of Disabled People Against Cuts have said that “As long as ATOS continues to treat disabled claimants little better than animals they will continue to protest against them and seek means to discredit them.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

The Day of Action has been called by a range of different groups and organisations throughout the UK. For the full list of supporting organisations and further details of all protests please visit the website at: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/
Contact details of some of the paticipating groups are as follows:
· Benefit Claimants Fightback: notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk
· Black Triangle: info@blacktrianglecampaign.org Scotland contact: 07778 316875
· Defend Welfare network
· Disabled People Against Cuts: mail@dpac.uk.net contact:07714 927533
· WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities): win@winvisible.org Tel: 020 7482 2496.

Atos Healthcare is part of Atos, the French multinational IT company which operates in 42 countries and which has the IT contract for the Olympic Games.

The National Day of Action Against Atos is the sixth National Day of Protest targeting benefit cuts, which has seen a diverse network of claimant, disability and anti-cuts groups and individuals taking action in every major city in the UK. As well as protests outside Atos offices, demonstrations have been held outside jobcentres, workfare provider’s offices, the Daily Mail for witch-hunting benefit “scroungers” and Westminster Council over the ban on soup runs.

ATOS Healthcare medical examiners & admin under fire for bad-mouthing ‘customers’ and improper conduct

Highlighting the level of contempt for people receiving sickness and disability benefits, that has been cynically mounted by politicians and amplified by the media over the past few years, a medical examiner working for the private company ATOS Healthcare has been caught calling people they are assessing ‘the down and outs’ on Facebook, whilst an administrator called them ‘parasitic wankers’. ATOS Healthcare, a division of ATOS Origin, is operating under a multi-million pound private contract to the Dept. of Work and Pensions to carry out computerised face-to-face medical assessments of all people on disability benefits. This is a programme of harassment of claimants and those on essential disability allowances which can readily be identified as being part of a as an ideological attack on welfare provision by successive governments. This revelation follows news that twelve ATOS medics are under investigation by the General Medical Council for improper conduct.

ATOS Healthcare are not only involved with medical testing. They have also also dabbled with private running of NHS facilities, winning a bid from the Primary Care Trust to run a GP surgery in Tower Hamlets. But they had to leave the 10 year contract as they were not up the to job and due to considerable local protest. “Local doctors passed a motion of no confidence in Tower Hamlets PCT. Angry medics and patients, fearful of the potential impact of the privatisation of this part of the NHS, staged a protest march, and wrote to MPs and the PCT to complain about the decision.”
This is only one part of the stuggle against NHS privatisation which obviously needs to be linked to the attack on benefits as well. A meeting about NHS privatisation will take place in Nottingham on September 22nd. In Nottingham, ATOS Healthcare runs an examination centre on Stoney St. in Hockley/Lace Market.

New!: ATOS take legal action against Carerwatch and get their bulletin taken down. (temporarily we hope).

New: ATOS take legal action against Carerwatch and get their bulletin board taken down.

Anti Cuts Demo at a Nottingham Job Centre – Friday 12th August 2011, 2pm [report & photos added]

Update: links to report and photos – http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/1993 & http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/1994

An Anti Cuts Demo has been called by Notts Uncut to coincide with a visit of Baroness (Tina) Stowell, conservative peer of Beeston, to a city job centre,
in the face of massive cuts to welfare and particular victimisation of disabled and ill claimants.
Location: Parliament Street Job Centre, Nottingham
Time/Date: ‎2.00pm-4.00pm Friday, August 12th.
More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=236067013098958

See also: Unemployed people ‘bullied’ into unpaid work at Tesco, Primark and other multinationals

Further Notts Uncut dates for August: http://nottssos.org.uk/2011/08/11/notts-uncut-diary-dates-in-august-2011/

Week of action against ATOS Healthcare and the DWP over ‘Work Capability Assessments’ starts May 9th

Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against ‘poverty pimps’ ATOS Origin beginning on Monday 9th May 2011, the same week that 1000s of people will march in London or take part in a ‘virtual’ online protest under the banner ‘The Hardest Hit’, against cuts to welfare benefits and allowances for disabled people. Calls have also been made for the media to stop demonising disabled claimants.

Update: Watch video on Guardian website (after annoying advert): Disabled people protest against Atos Origin.

Join Local action: Meet at 11am outside Office Angels (located in the city centre past the right lion. Next door to MAC and opposite The Square bar/club). Angel House, 12-13 Cheapside, City Centre, Nottingham, NG1 2HU. This is an action against treatment of temp workers that will continue at the ATOS Healthcare assessment centre on Stoney Street, Hockley.
Continue reading “Week of action against ATOS Healthcare and the DWP over ‘Work Capability Assessments’ starts May 9th”

3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts – April 14th 2011 – supported by Nottingham Claimants’ Union

A 3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts has been called for Thursday April 14th 2011 and Nottingham Claimants’ Union is supporting the event.

Millions are set to be affected by savage cuts to housing, disability, sickness and welfare benefits. People with disabilities, illness, the unemployed, single parents, carers the low waged, part time students, volunteers, homeless people and college students are all likely to see a devastating drop in disposable income with many slipping even further below the poverty line.

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164277070288955

Read more about the event: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/national-day-of-protest-against-benefit-cuts-day-3/

See also, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC): http://www.dpac.uk.net/

And also read:

Anti-cuts events week beginning Monday 24th Jan 2011 [plus Video ‘The Rise of Street Extremism | 10.01.11’]

Anti-cuts events: January 24th-30th 2011. Follow links for details. Plenty to get involved with.
Update: find out about further meetings and events here: http://nsafc.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/action-24th-jan-to-5th-feb/

Monday 24th Jan: Second National Day of Action Against Benefit Cuts. All day. Action in Nottingham – see http://nsafc.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/action-24th-jan-to-5th-feb/

Monday 24th Jan: NCVS meeting impact of cuts on voluntary and community groups, 2-4pm at YMCA/ICC, Nottingham.

Monday 24th Jan: Notts SOS meeting 7.30pm at YMCA/ICC, Nottingham. Our regular meeting. All welcome.

Tuesday 25th Jan – Mansfield SOS meeting, 7.15pm, at the Gas Board Sports and Social Club, Lime Tree Place, Mansfield.

Wednesday 26th Jan: UCU Open Forum, Nottingham Uni, Portland Building C11, 1pm-3pm.

Wednesday 26th Jan: Stand Up For the NHS, 7:30pm at Mechanics Institute, 3 North Sherwood Street, Nottingham.

Wednesday 26th Jan: National walkout to save EMA (Facebook). Download College students flyer about EMA produced at Network X

Thursday 27th Jan: Save Sherwood Forest meeting 7.30pm at YMCA/ICC, Nottingham.

Saturday 29th Jan: Education no-fees/cuts demo in London. Called by Education Activist Network, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and University College Union (UCU). Coaches leave Nottingham Trent SU at 8:30am, Nottingham Uni (Portland Building) at 9am. Tickets are £7 concession, £15 waged and must be bought in advance. To book text/call 07849 392 842. Download flyer: http://nottssos.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/national-demo-fees-cuts-29-jan-2011.pdf. There is also a demo in Manchester on the same day which UCU and PCS are also supporting – there are coaches – contact respective unions. Nottingham Students now have tickets to Manchester as well. So take your pick. Email nsafac [at] gmail.com for tickets both events.

Sunday 30th Jan: Nottingham UK Uncut event 1pm Clumber Street.

Video extra: Think tank Policy Exchange worries about ‘domestic extremism’, including anti-cuts campaigns (and websites!). Apparently it’s unfairness that makes ‘the British people’ rise up and this must be addressed by the government before it’s hijacked by the Left and anarchists. It’s a long video with a range of experts, who are mostly ex-police – maybe they are getting a bit worried? They are certainly saying the state should be getting more prepared. See/listen around 3 mins in about those terrible UKUncut flash mobs that have been used to close stores (see also near end of the video a suggestion that it’s time their website be brought down – how democratic!). Then 7 mins in – an infiltrator of CND talks about the general problem of anti-parliamentary groups. Various stuff about kettling and other public order tactics and the terrible constraints of the Human Rights Act. And a suggestion that a royal wedding protest with anti-cuts flavour could be a problem. Enjoy.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3sc_prqw_s]

PolicyExchangeUK | 11 January 2011 | 0 likes, 42 dislikes
There are increasing signs that significant sections of the extreme left have little intention of confining their opposition to Coalition policies to peaceful, democratic protest. In recent weeks we have seen riots over student tuition fees, the forcible closure of high street stores by flashmobs and also growing demands for industrial action to undermine the Coalition administration, including from the leader of Britain’s biggest trade union.
Do these actions portend a dangerous new trend towards the use of physical force? If so, what can and should be done to prevent this phenomenon becoming a regular feature of the national landscape?

Speakers:
Peter Clarke CVO OBE QPM | former Head of the Counter Terrorism Command and former Borough Commander in Brixton during the 1995 riots
Rt Hon David Maclean | former Minister of State at the Home Office and Parliamentary Adviser to the Police Superintendents Association
Paul Mercer | UK’s pre-eminent expert on extremist groups and author, Longman’s Directory of British Political Organisations [who also likes to spy for arms dealers it would appear.]
Henry Robinson | Anti Terrorist community and street activist and former Irish republican prisoner

Christmas carols subverted into anti-cuts protests [with ’12 Days of Cripmas’ and ‘tax Vodafone’ videos]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKdKzalMhXc]The 12 Days Of Cripmas is a topical take of a classic carol listing the benefits and services currently being removed from disabled people in Britain. The lyrics were written by a user of the Ouch messageboards, sent to Where’s The Benefit and the track produced and directed by BendyGirl of The Broken Of Britain. We’re all incredibly proud of Imana our 11 yr old singing star who is a child carer for her mum who has Multiple Sclerosis.

A few of reports from the recent 15th December national day of protest about cuts affecting welfare and disabled people are online:
London: Disabled People Against Cuts, “Nativity Play”, Trafalgar Square: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/6720
Glasgow: Citizens United: http://www.indymediascotland.org/node/22619
Oxford: Uninvisible Rally: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2010/12/470796.html

See also, about a specific cut in Notts County (courtesy of Parish of Nottingham blog, where Vogon commander would appear to be County leader Kay Cutts): http://parishofnottinghamshire.blogspot.com/2010/11/disabled-to-suffer-under-vogon.html
Creative carols were also sung on the 18th Dec anti-tax avoidance demonstrations in Nottingham.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOc2FBY7ZU0&feature=player_embedded]

[Video 1] [Video 2] [Video 3]

Look at pictures: in Notts SOS facebook gallery

See also – a comment on Notts Trades Council website about Christmas pop: http://www.nottstuc.org/2010/12/on-seasonal-note.html

Nottingham Claimants’ Union formed

Welfare not workfare placard on a demonstration

Update December 2011: – this initiative did not last but please see activities of
Nottingham Defence Campaign instead.

There hasn’t been a claimants’ group in Nottingham since the time of Nottingham Claimants Action in the late 1990s. With the news that the ConDem government is introducing workfare on top of all of the changes to benefits already announced, the gloves are off and a claimants’ organisation is needed more than ever. Nottingham Claimants’ Union has now been set up and to get things going there will be a meeting with a guest speaker from Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centres this Wednesday.

For details about the initiative and the meeting, see Nottingham Claimants’ Union article on Notts Indymedia and get in touch.