- Created: Tuesday, 01 May 2012 14:43
- Written by Newcastle FRFI
On 26th April 2012 FRFI supporters joined activists from Occupy Newcastle to occupy Arden House, an ATOS health assessment centre, to protest against work capability assessments.
They performed street theatre inside the waiting area, at Regent Centre Newcastle, to an audience of claimants in order to highlight the unfair and profit orientated nature of the assessments.
One activist commented:
“The protest highlighted the demoralising and dehumanising process which the ATOS assessment puts people through. In effect the most disadvantaged in society are attacked and alienated because of policies which allow for profit making companies to take control of ordinary people’s lives. Within the performance Jim’s metaphorical suicide is a true reflection of reality.”
Someone who is going through the ATOS process stated:
“The whole purpose of ATOS is to get people off benefits, as part of the government’s austerity programme. It’s not to assess their fitness for work.”
Another person stated:
“I have my integrity questioned through out every step of this process. At one point I began to think the pain I suffer was just in head after ATOS assessed me as fit for work with, no medical problems likely to occur in the future. In actual fact I suffer from several debilitating medical conditions and I am in constant pain. Going through this process has caused me massive amounts of stress and anxiety, as well as compromising me financially to the point I am barely able to live.”
Placards were held which read: ‘ATOS boss Keith Wilman – £800,000 p.a. ESA claimant – £5,000 p.a.
Around 40% of claimants who are rejected by the ATOS assessment and take their case to an appeals tribunal have the unfair decision overturned. This figure is around 70% for those who have legal representation. And of course there are a lot of people who don’t have the energy or support to fight it.
ATOS security and staff were quick to show their complete contempt for people out of work with the management telling activists to ‘stop being lazy and get a job’. They attempted to stop the protest from being filmed, confiscated the table being used as a prop (injuring someone in the process) and called the police. Despite these attacks the demonstration was successful. More actions like this to follow…