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Monday, 17 March 2014

Edinburgh & London - Give ATOS - The Battle Continues !

The government has taken a highly cynical approach, mistakenly seeing the disabled as an easy touch for cuts, thinking they would be unable to defend themselves. But nothing has proved further from the truth, with disabled activists at the vanguard of protests against benefit cuts and in particular the bedroom tax. These cuts have put a totally unfair burden on disabled people, and they have responded with fury and purpose. Many of those who spoke at demonstrations below or sat listening in wheelchairs were those who become politicised into direct action, acquiring the skills in blocking roads, picketing Atos, occupying the DWP and much more.

The film below is about the Edinburgh demonstration against ATOS that took place on Feb 19th 2014. These are the stories and experiences of the people affected by ATOS.

Please Give ATOS 

This isn't an average type of film. The title is borrowed from (what was thought ) a clever pun seen on a protest Facebook page a while back and which I feel sums up the sentiment needed entirely.

Below is a video 'Human Cost documents ‘10,000 Cuts & Counting’ a ceremony of remembrance that took place in London at the end of 2013. It was a show of solidarity for those who have had their lives devastated by David Cameron’s austerity programme.

The public spending watchdog is investigating the award of a £184 million disability assessment contract to Atos Healthcare.

Currently, ATOS is being investigated by the National Audit Office (NAO) in a in a a major “value for money study”. Meanwhile, since the inception of the Work Capability Assessment WCA, 10,600 people have died within six weeks of being deemed ‘fit for work’ by ATOS healthcare professionals.

Human Cost 10,000 Cuts #Atos 

Disabled activists and supporters came to Parliament Square for '10,000 Cuts & Counting', a ceremony of remembrance and solidarity for over 10,000 who died shortly after the degrading Work Capability Assessments run for the government by Atos.

As well as the many testimonies, there was a 2 minutes of silent remembrance for those who have suffered and died and then four prayers facing the four sides of the square: towards Westminster Abbey for the families of those who have suffered and disabled people still suffering or despairing; facing the Supreme Court calling for justice and compassion for those without resources and power and for an end to discrimination and violence against the disabled; towards the Treasury calling on those in national and local government who decide on the use of resources to take into account the effect on people of what they do; and finally towards Parliament, calling for a new deal for disabled people and to put right the evident wrongs in the current system.

Not content with cutting benefit, the government wants to make a strict benefit regime even stricter.

The British benefits system is 'unfit for purpose' - a future Labour government must hold a Public Inquiry:

Respect For the Unemployed &; Benefit Claimants sets out the following as a program to replace the discredited Department for Work and Pensions on the  return of a Labour government.

*  A Public Inquiry needs to held within the first year in office regarding the systematic abuse of benefit claimants in regard to workfare, benefit sanctions & sanction targets. The remit of this public inquiry must look into the way disabled benefit claimants have been treated by the state & by the contractor ATOS. The  remit must also look into the benefit rates for claimants - described as '
manifestly inadequate' by the Council of Europe.
UnemployedNet and Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants responded to the 'Independent Review of Sanctions' - Both organisations issued a call to unemployed & benefit claimants after the Oakley review was announced. Comments gathered via Facebook, email and other sources, and the responses form the basis of our document.

Stop workfare in its tracks – Take action 29 March – 6 April :  Wherever you are, however you can contribute, take action on 29 March-6 April.

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