Sep 122011
 

The following letter has been sent to Atos Healthcare. Copies have also been sent to The Guardian, The Independent, The Morning Star, The Times, The Financial Times, Newsweek & the Daily Mail. It is written in response to Atos Healthcare’s misuse of the libel laws in a bid to silence their many many critics, especially those who have spoken openly about their bad experiences of the Work Capability Assessment.

The original post Atos objected to can be found at
https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/atos-mach-frei-atos-origin-team-up-with-gas-chamber-firm/

AN OPEN LETTER TO ATOS HEALTHCARE

Lisa Coleman
General Manager for the DWP Contracts
Atos Healthcare
4 Triton Square
Regent’s Place
London, NW1 3HG

Dear Ms Coleman,

We the undersigned individuals and groups are seriously concerned by the fact that Atos Healthcare, the provider of the Work Capability Assessment for sickness benefits, has threatened legal action against the Internet hosting companies of three websites which circulated letters from sickness benefit claimants – ‘Carerwatch’, ‘After Atos’ and ‘Atos Register of Shame’ (now relaunched as ‘A### the Truth’).

These websites have given members of society who are often isolated and have traditionally found it difficult to take joint action, the chance to come together and share their experiences. We find it unacceptable that a large IT company, which receives £100m per year for their assessment of claimants, has deployed their legal department against individuals or small organisations who dared to circulate people’s comments and concerns about their treatment at Atos’ hands.

As acknowledged by both the recent Harrington Report and the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the Work Capability Assessment implemented by Atos Healthcare was found to be mechanistic and Atos’ ‘medical reports’ far too often did not reflect circumstances and discussions that had taken place during the assessments (Harrington Report, pp. 40-41). In addition, ESA claimants have now been told that twelve doctors working for Atos face being struck off for improper conduct, and other members of Atos’ staff are under investigation over allegations of obscene criticism of benefit claimants.

Atos Healthcare has given assurances that the shortcomings identified by the Harrington Report are being addressed. Yet many claimants are still experiencing the distress of poor and rushed medical assessments based on Atos Healthcare’s computer programme.

Amid growing concern that Atos Healthcare is failing to raise its methods and professionalism to acceptable standards, the company is now attempting to silence those claimants and their small organisations who have had the courage to speak up. At a time when we see that major corporations such as News International are able to use the threat of legal action to hide their wrongdoings, it is important that Atos’ actions are brought to account.

It is also the case that government bodies are unable to sue for libel. Atos’ argument is that they are taking legal action to protect their business reputation, but in this case they are performing the work of the DWP, and receiving public money for doing it.

For these reasons, we ask that Atos withdraw all threats of libel action, that they publicly guarantee that they will not in future use the libel laws to close down criticism of their practices, and that they make a public apology to those individuals and websites which they have tried to silence.

Yours truly

Brighton Benefits Campaign
Brighton & Hove TUC Unemployed Centre
Caroline Lucas MP
Amanda Sebestyen Writer
Paul Smith Atos Victims Group
Holly Smith (President) Brighton and Hove Trades Union Council
Brighton Keep Our NHS Public
Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition
Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts
Ipswich Unemployed Action
Disabled People Against Cuts
False Economy
Southampton United for Pensions and Public Services
National Coalition for Independent Action
Redhill Coalition Against Cuts
Lewes Stop the Cuts
Art Uncut
DLA Help Group
The Broken of Britain
WinVisible (Women With Visible and Invisible Disabilities)
Suffolk Coalition for Public Services
Queer Resistance
Newport Trades Union Council
Cornwall Anti Cuts Alliance
Cornwall Disabled People Against Cuts
Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

cross posted from Brighton Benefits Campaign

May 142011
 

Information about associated events with the National Week Against Atos Origin can be found at the National Claimants Against Benefit Cuts website

West Midlands anti cuts co-ordinating meeting press release.

At West Bromwich Town Hall on Tuesday 10 May, anti-cuts groups from across the West Midlands met to plan and coordinate opposition to the ConDem Government’s assault on the Public Sector and Welfare System.

Groups from Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Shropshire and Walsall and DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) called upon anyone opposed to the cuts to join them in supporting the Trade Unions currently in dispute or balloting their members over the vicious attacks on pensions, and to take part in rallies and demonstrations on 30 June when nearly a million workers could take the first step in the industrial action needed to defeat the Government’s plans.

more from Right to Work website
‘Who are they targeting and How can we stop them?’ Birmingham meeting

On Thursday 12th May Right to Work, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and Social Work Action Network (SWAN ) hosted a meeting at Unison headquarters in Birmingham about ConDems attacks on the disabled and cuts to benefits. It posed two questions – Who are they targeting and How can we stop them?

Linda Burnip from DPAC outlined the detail and depth of the attacks on disabled people. Linda highlighted the savage cuts to housing, disability, sickness and welfare benefits, with disabled people likely to see a drastic drop in disposable income with many slipping below the poverty line.

Polly Sweeney, a solicitor from Irwin Mitchell spoke about how discrimination law can be used to stop the cuts to disabled people and gave us a report on a case she’s just won preventing Birmingham City Council changing eligibility criteria for care funding.

Nicki Ward and Barbara Marshall from SWAN pointed out British social welfare policy under the Coalition Government is undergoing a breathtaking upheaval. Profit and care are not compatible. SWAN are urging those involved in social work to make a stand against the social violence being unleashed by the ConDem coalition: to speak out, campaign and join the movements of resistance.

Paul Brandon National Secretary of Right to Work urged everyone to remember this is a bankers created crisis and we should not be made to pay for it. He urged everyone to support coordinated strike action on the 30th June and to build for massive demonstrations outside the Lib Dem conference on the 18 Sep in Birmingham and the Tory party conference on the 2nd October with them ultimate aim of bringing the ConDem coalition down.

More from Right to Work website

Linda Burnip’s report on ATOS WEEK OF ACTION

A successful week of actions called by various disabled and claimants groups and supported by Right to Work protesting against ATOS the private firm milking millions of tax payers money from the testing of disabled people through their tick box computer Work Capability Assessments occurred all around the country. Over 50 anti- cuts groups also supported the week of action.

Several events took place in London supported on Monday by PCS members who share the hatred disabled people feel towards ATOS since they also make profits from testing civil servants who have been off work sick. In Northern Ireland NIPSA, the largest public sector union, whose members are losing their jobs next month to ATOS expressed support for the protests.

On Thursday the Islington event picketing both ATOS and A4e was supported by RMT staff whose jobs are being replaced by the use of unemployed people through workfare programmes. This is something we feel union members will start noticing much more of in the near future as these schemes continue to be rolled out nationwide.

Other major protests took place in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Truro, Nottingham, Hastings, Cardiff, York, Chatham, Plymouth and Bristol plus on 2 days in Brighton, and on 2 days in Birmingham. In Birmingham protesters performed Brighton Benefits Campaign play ‘The Computer says NO’ with RtW’s Simon Furze playing the part of the wicked computer. In Cambridge there was an occupation of the ATOS office.

Fuller details can be found at https://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com

https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Home/Protesters-occupy-healthcare-building-12052011.htm

https://www.demotix.com/news/685823/atos-origin-demonstration-london

pics from Monday’s Triton square demo can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/peteriches/sets/72157626569684887/ Whilst The Guardian has a video at: https://www.guardian.co.uk/society/video/2011/may/11/disability-protest-atos-origin-video

Birmingham, May 13th

https://www.flickr.com/photos/disabledpeopleprotest/sets/72157626712433434/

Cross posted on the Right to Work website

Medway anti cuts campaigners protest over disability benefits

Campaigners from Medway Against the Cuts protested outside a Medical Testing Centre in Batchelor St Chatham on Friday against ATOS Origin the private company that run the centre.
More from RtW website

‘We will be back!’ says ATOS protesters in Manchester

In Manchester thirty protesters rallied outside the assessment offices of ATOS. They marched into the grounds chanting, ‘Benefit Cuts No Way! Make the Greedy Bankers Pay!’

‘These attacks on disabled people are designed to force people into work when they clearly are not fit for work. The process is designed to drive down wages of those who are in work. It is an attack on everyone,’ said Lesley Barrington.

‘A diagnosis of mental health problems can take years to reach. ATOS is putting people under pressure, some become suicidal over these cuts. When they take away benefits from people with mental health problems they do tremendous damage. It is obscene to take away people’s basic rights in the 21st Century.” Paul Reed, Manchester Users Network, a charity that helps users and ex users of mental health facilities in Manchester.

‘Basically I am really scared about being forced into work. A lot of other people are in the same situation. We end up being numbers not people. I am really proud to be here with everyone on this protest.’ Sharon Hooley, Disability Adult Action Network

More at RtW website

Apr 182011
 
"Atos don't give a toss" placard

"Atos don't give a toss"

On the last Day of Action Against Benefit Cuts protests, actions and demonstrations were organised in Dundee, Edinburgh, Westminster, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle, Brighton, Glasgow, Poole, Burnley, Islington, Kensington, Cardiff, Poole and Truro.  This time we’ve got all week!

Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against poverty pimps Atos Origin beginning on Monday 9th May with a picnic and party in Triton Square*, home of their head office, at 2pm.

Atos Origin have just begun a £300 million contract by the Con-dem Government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’ on all of those claiming Incapacity Benefit.

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.

On the 24th January claimants from around the country demonstrated outside Atos Origins premises, with many choosing to close for the day rather than face their ‘clients’. We call on all groups around the UK to take action against these parasites who have been dubbed ‘the racial purity and euthanasia arm of the DWP’

A list of Atos Origin’s corporate offices and testing centres can be found via: https://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/national-week-of-action-against-atos-origin-begins-monday-9th-may/

If you are holding an event, protest or action in your home town please add details on the wall below to have your event added to this page and the website. Alternatively contact us at: notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

*Triton Square is on the North side of Euston Road, just over the road from Warren Street tube and less than five minutes from Euston/Euston Square or Great Portland Street tube stations.

facebook event at: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=121624627914913

Supporting groups (please contact us to be added to the list)

Supported by:

o Armchair Army
o Anti-Benefit Cuts Glasgow
o Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign
o Brighton Benefits Campaign
o Cardiff’s Unemployed Daytime Disco
o Carer Watch
o Carer Watch fb page
o Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist
o Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
o Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)
o Dundee Unemployed Workers
o East Lancs Right to Work
o Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP)
o Free London Listings
o Goldsmiths in Occupation
o Haringey Solidarity Group
o Ipswich Unemployed Action
o Islington Deaf and Disabled People Against Cuts (IDPAC)
o Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS)
o Islington Poverty Action
o Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group
o Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts
o London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP)
o London Foodbank
o Mad Pride
o Medway Against The Cuts
o Mental Health Resistance Network
o Norfolk Community Action Group
o Nottingham Claimants’ Union
o Nuneaton Against Benefit Cuts
o Oxford Save Our Services
o Squattastic
o Tyneside Claimants Union
o Welfare Action Hackney
o Welfare Rights 4 u (UK)
o Work Programme & Flexible New Deal Scandal
o World Homeless Day