A series of actions against ATOS
There were a number of actions against ATOS and it’s subsidiary ATOS Healthcare in 2012. 2013 looks set to be no different as today campaigners from Black Triangle, Citizens United Against Public Service Cuts and Glasgow Against ATOS joined forces to try to convince deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon to get ATOS dropped as a sponsor for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The group stated their concern about the role ATOS plays in heaping misery upon disabled people by subjecting them to humiliating Work Capability Tests to get them off benefits. They then suggested that the Scottish Government and the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee find a more ethical company to sponsor the games in 2014.
(From the Sunday Herald – Tom Gordon – Scottish Political Editor)
Nicola Sturgeon personally welcomed Atos as an official sponsor of Glasgow 2014 last year, calling the French IT giant’s involvement “a significant step forward for the Games”.
The company will supply the software to accredit up to 70,000 athletes, volunteers and officials, and run the Glasgow 2014 website.
Sturgeon is also the Scottish Government’s leading voice on welfare issues – last week she announced an expert group to help devise a welfare system reflecting “Scottish values” and fairness under independence instead of the cuts being imposed by Westminster.
At the demonstration the protestors stated that Atos could not be further from those Scottish values, given its central role in the UK government’s welfare reforms.
Atos Healthcare has a £110 million annual contract with the Department of Work and Pensions to run work capability assessments of the sick and disabled, and a £400m deal to assess mobility benefits.
Critics say the tests are flawed, degrading and inefficient, with one in six passed as fit to work winning an appeal against the decision.
The Atos sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics led to protests, and similar actions are now planned in Glasgow. The 2014 HQ was occupied last month, and protesters have threatened to disrupt the Scottish equivalent of the Olympic torch relay if Atos is still a sponsor.
The SNP Government is funding about 80% of the £550m price tag for the Games.
However, (the video above) shows Sturgeon denying any say over the sponsorship: “Obviously the benefits side of this is not a matter for the Scottish Government, it’s a UK Government issue … I will take on board what you said to the Commonwealth Games. Obviously, it’s not my decision in terms of sponsors.”
Protester David Churchley, co-founder of the Black Triangle disability rights group, said Atos sponsorship was “absolutely scandalous and beyond belief” and that Sturgeon had tried to give protesters the brush off.
He said: “They have learned nothing from the Olympics. They’re just riding roughshod over disabled people and those who support us. But Friday will be just one of many stunts we will be mounting up to the Games.”
Sean Clerkin of Citizens United said: “The SNP Government is being hypocritical. They criticise the Tory-led Coalition for what they’re doing to welfare, while welcoming Atos as sponsors of the Commonwealth Games.
“Nicola Sturgeon is the person talking about a welfare system with Scottish values. If she’s going to live up to those values, she should ensure Atos is dropped as a sponsor.”
Here’s a run down of some of the actions against ATOS from 2012:
Monday 3rd December 2012.
Campaigners laid a wreath to mourn the 73 sick and disabled Britons – from the terminally ill to those with industrial injuries – who die every week while trying to scrape by on breadline payments. The demonstration at the cenotaph in George Square, Glasgow, was followed by a protest outside Atos’s office in the city’s Cadogan Street. Full story here.
Tuesday 27 November 2012.
Around 20 members of the Citizens United group of campaigners, occupied the 2014 Games offices in Albion Street, Glasgow. They called for Atos to be removed as a sponsor of the Commonwealth Games 2014. Full story here.
Saturday 24th November 2012.
A dozen people, including members of benefit claimants’ groups Black Triangle and the Crutch Collective, Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World, Glasgow Anarchist Federation, Glasgow Solidarity Federation as well as other individuals took part in an hour long picket of the Co-Op Bank and supermarket on the same street in central Glasgow.
They gave out leaflets to Co-Op customers and the hundreds of people passing by on their way home from work. The leaflet highlighted the Co-Op’s four year occupational health contract with Atos. Full story here.