Members of Unite, the UK’s largest trade union, are to join disabled campaigners in peaceful demonstrations outside Atos work assessment centres across the country tomorrow (Wednesday 19 February).
Atos – a profit driven multi-national company hired by the government to assess the capability of disabled people to work – has increasingly come under fire for its treatment of disabled people attending for work capability assessments.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The government’s own figures last year showed that 10,600 people died within six weeks of being declared ‘fit for work’ by Atos. This alone should have set alarm bells ringing that the assessments were not fit for purpose.
“We are calling on the government to stop this degrading policy and introduce a fairer transparent system that restores dignity to the sick and disabled.”
Over 40 per cent of cases where people have been deemed fit to work, and had their benefits cut have had their appeals upheld. However the appeals process can take months while some of the most vulnerable disabled are plunged into poverty.
The ‘tick-box’ nature of the tests does not cater for the complex nature of peoples illnesses, particularly for those with mental illness. This has also led, in some cases, to those with long-term degenerative and terminal illnesses, such as Parkinson’s and cancer, being told they are fit for work.