Disabled activists plan Olympic protest

Police challenge UK Uncut demonstrators during a protest in central London last year.
Protests against the disability welfare cuts are planned for the Paralympic Games

By Georgie Keate

Campaigners are planning a week of action against Atos Healthcare at the Paralympic Games to fight the government's handling of welfare cuts.

Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) and UK Uncut are working together to dispute Atos' £100 million contract with the coalition on work capability assessments.

"Atos is just ramming through the coalition's brutal £10 billion spending cuts. The cuts to welfare are just not necessary," Damian Joyce of UK Uncut told politics.co.uk.

"The action at the Paralympic Games is being planned by Dpac but we are supporting them in a week of action that will end in a 'grand finale' on August 31st."

According to the group, they plan to repeat the "audacious, disruptive action" of the protests in February against the welfare reform bill in Oxford Circus by targeting Atos centres.

"Atos have devastated the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled people and made millions of pounds of profit doing it. Now they are trying to portray themselves as supporters of disabled athletes. It's offensive," said Dpac's Paddy Murphy.

Atos were commissioned by the government to test 11,000 claimants on incapacity benefits every week and have been criticised by politicians as well as campaigners for their "flawed" approach which they claim has left thousands without the right benefits.

Activists have also gone to court over the assessments and two disabled people have been granted a judicial review to challenge the assessments.

Twitter campaigner @bendygirl said: "Using the available legal channels is a vital part of the overall lobbying process, which effectively targets the organ grinder and not the monkey."

However, Dpac have called on people to join them in direct action.

"We are calling on disabled people, disabled activists, families, colleagues, friends and supporters to come together and fight back against Atos’s attacks," a Dpac spokesperson said.

An Atos statement defended their position, saying they supported the right to protest and were "very aware that work capability assessments can be stressful for those involved, and this is why we strive to make sure the assessment service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be."

The week of action will include delivering a coffin of messages to an Atos centre doorstep, holding a spoof awards ceremony and phone jamming the company.

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