Gold winning former Paralympian joins Disabled activists to target Atos

Former gold-medal winning Paralympian to join UK Uncut [1] and Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) [2] at ‘The Closing Atos Ceremony’. 

The two groups have vowed to shut down Atos’ HQ at Triton Square in Central London during the Paralympic Games; promising direct action, creative protest and ‘plenty of surprises’. The action will be taking place on Friday 31st August at 12:45pm.

Tara Flood, a gold-winning former Paralympian [3] has come out in support of the campaign against Atos, saying:

“It is a shocking irony that Atos is a main sponsor of London 2012 whilst destroying disabled people’s lives on behalf of the government.”

‘The Closing Atos Ceremony’ is the culmination of a week of protests organised by disabled activists targeting Paralympic sponsor Atos. The week of action, dubbed the ‘Atos Games’, will also include protests at Atos centres around the country [4], and disabled activists will be delivering a coffin full of messages to Atos from people affected by their much criticised Work Capability Assessments (WCA).

Atos have come under fierce scrutiny for their handling of the Department of Work and Pensions £100 million a year contract, assessing whether claimants for incapacity benefits are ‘fit for work’. Last year 1,100 claimants died while under compulsory work-related activity for benefit [5]; and a number of those found ‘fit for work’ and left without income have committed or attempted suicide [6]. A recent episode of Dispatches [7] revealed Atos staff being pressured into unfairly declaring people ‘fit for work’ in order to fulfil targets.

The British Medical Association [8], disabled groups, and MPs [9] have all demanded the work capability assessments end with immediate effect. The High Court also recently granted permission for two disabled people to bring a claim for judicial review against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, challenging the operation of the WCA [10].

Paddy Murphy, a spokesperson from DPAC said:

‘By sponsoring the Paralympics, ATOS is trying to give the impression of supporting disabled people. Don’t be fooled. They receive hundreds of millions of pounds while many disabled people are being forced to live in abject poverty because of their decisions. This is just another opportunity for them to ‘cash-in’. But we aren’t going to let them off the hook. We will make sure everyone knows what they are about.

We are challenging Atos in the courts, in parliament, online, on the streets and now at the Paralympics. The work capability assessment must end now.’

Lisa Cunningham, a UK Uncut activist said:

‘People directly affected by Atos assessments are making their anger and fear heard through an act of creative and disruptive civil disobedience. UK Uncut will be joining them to demand an end to Atos’ inhumane tests. The Government’s cuts are killing the economy, and in the case of the cuts to welfare enforced by Atos, they are killing people.

We’re not against the Paralympics. We are against the hypocrisy of Atos’ involvement, when they may soon be removing disability benefits from the people winning medals for Britain.’

ENDS

———————————————————————————————————

Notes to editors:

Disabled people who have undergone Atos’ WCA are available to talk to the media, please contact the UK Uncut media phone for details.

Please contact UK Uncut or DPAC for more details about other events and actions during the week.

[1] UK Uncut is a grassroots anti-cuts direct action network, well-known for targeting corporate tax avoidance: ukuncut.org.uk

[2] DPAC is a volunteer campaign network of and for disabled people campaigning for equality and human rights for all disabled people: dpac.uk.net/about

[3] After representing GB at three Paralympic Games, Tara retired from competitive swimming in 1992 when she achieved a World Record in 50m Breaststroke at the Barcelona Games – a record that still stands. Tara will be available to speak to media at the event on Friday, and at another on Monday 27 August, please contact DPAC for details.

[4] http://ukuncut.org.uk/actions

[5] http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html

[6] http://poultonblog.dailymail.co.uk/2012/03/people-are-choosing-suicide-to-escape-poverty-is-this-the-states-final-solution.html

[7] http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/articles/britain-on-the-sick-reporter-feature

[8] http://bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/2012/june/scrap-work-capability-assessment-doctors-demand

[9] http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2012-13/295

[10] http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2012/07/26/judicial-review-of-work-capability-assessment-granted/

Press enquiries:UK Uncut: Tel: 07415063231 | Email: ukuncut@gmail.com | DPAC: Tel: 07508 983 610 | Email: maildpac.uk.net

#RT http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/press-release-former-paralympian-joins-activists-to-target-atos
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