Atos demo April 1 2014, Barkers Pool Sheffield 12pm.
Attendees: approx 40
Participants congregated at Barkers Pool outside lloyds bar. Various groups and organisations attended and were represented inc: Unite Community members, the NUM and striking NAPO members.
Short speeches inc one by David Kirkham of Sheffield Uncut who highlighted the fact that IDS seems to have slipped through the fit to work scheme.
The procession set off led by union banners, people held placards with slogans such as;
” disabled people are not disposable”
and many others.
The crowd proceeded to march to the DWP building on West St.
Supported by cheers and whistles from people hanging out of windows of nearby buildings and some motorists hooting in support.
5 activists immediately entered the building unchallenged and proceeded to chain themselves with lock to the struts of the central staircase. They held a huge banner which read:
RESPECT!! DIGNITY!! EQUALITY!!”
Outside the remaining protesters lined the street and began a series of short, punchy, speeches which highlighted the issues of the protest. Not only to the DWP and the SYP who had been called to attend but to passers-by, who were in general disgusted at the treatment of sick and disabled people.
As the writer of this report, I witnessed no negative feed back from the general public. It is important to note that.
Speakers on the day were many and came from varied backgrounds.
Some spoke as union or group reps some as individuals.
Napo’s rep highlighted the link between the cause and the cuts to legal aid and how one drastically affects the other.
Chris Skidmore form NUM talked about people who had been diagnosed with RSI (vibration white finger) by vascular surgeons, only to have it quashed by ATOS staff. He also highlighted to need to screen and assess staff for medical experience and qualifications and the importance of all constituents badgering their local MP to question the processes that are currently in place.
He said that sick and disabled people suffer continual abuse because they are labelled scum and scroungers even if they don’t work due to work related injury.
Unite member highlighted workfare practices.
The cost of implementing workfare is £5.5million.
The fact that companies are taking advantage of the scheme while IDS scapegoats foreign workers for the lack of jobs.
Shouts from the assembled crowd of ” it is slavery” were met with applause and agreement.
Jenny Poulton of Sheffield University Disabled Students Committee said, “what does it mean to be fit for work?”
Instead of telling people they are not fit for work, why aren’t employers being told to create jobs for disabled people? Some people are unable to fight back, or even were unable to attend the protest because they are trapped in their homes.
Disabled people are not useless and the world needs to stop telling them that it doesn’t want them.