You can read 9 more articles this month
HUNDREDS of Commonwealth Games tourists were surprised in Glasgow’s George Square yesterday as disability activists cried shame on sponsor Atos.
A clutch of demonstrators backing campaign group Glasgow Against Atos held banners and placards aloft — reading “ATOS KILLS” — in front of sports fans who were viewing the Glasgow 2014 sculpture and queueing for Games merchandise.
IT giant Atos has sought to boost its public profile by sponsoring database software for international sporting events, but campaigners have fought to expose its role in deadly cuts to disability benefits under a lucrative contract running “work capability assessments” for the Department of Work and Pensions.
Demonstrator Ronnie Swinton told the Morning Star he had come all the way from Dundee to voice his anger at Atos.
Mr Swinton said he had spent seven weeks “without any money,” depending on friends as he fought to appeal a decision that he was fit for work despite chronic depression.
Mr Swinton said he had eventually won his appeal but the stress had taken a further toll on his health.
“I was afraid of losing my flat.
“It would’ve given me a mental illness if I didn’t have one in the first place,” he said.
And a government proposal to simply switch contractors won’t solve the problems either, he added: “The whole system’s got to be stopped before any more people die.”
Several suicides have been linked to benefits being denied following Atos’ assessments, including “Miss DE” in 2011, whose identity remains protected, and blind agoraphobe Tim Salter, who took his own life in September last year.
The department says it does not record mortality rates for those deemed “fit for work.”
But figures released in 2012 suggested that 2,200 people had died before Atos had even completed their assessment — and 1,300 had died within six weeks of being shunted into “work related activity.”
In 2012 Paralympic athletes hid their branded lanyards at London’s Olympic opening ceremony, while Sport Disability Scotland told MSPs in April of athletes who could no longer afford to continue their sporting careers after losing out to an assessment.
Games organisers have repeatedly said they remain “very proud” of Atos’ involvement, while Atos maintains that its assessments merely offer information to DWP officials who decide on access to benefits.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.