Demonstration Against Benefit Cuts
John Owen describes the action which took place on Monday 9th May, 2011.
A lively protest took place outside the ATOS HQ in Old Hall Street, Liverpool, where people stood outside The Plaza campaigning against the organisation’s attempt to stop people claiming sickness benefits by declaring them fit for work. Around 40 people braved the elements as they gave the staff leaflets and talked to passers-by, getting a good response. The action, organised by Liverpool Solidarity Federation, was in response to the overhaul of the benefits system since the coalition came to power.
Those deemed ‘fit to work’ and removed from the benefits system will help save the government millions and provide cheap labour for those organisations taking part in ‘The Big Society’. The leaflet declared that:
“The testing system has already led to people with terminal illness and severe medical conditions being declared ‘fit to work’ and having benefits cut.”
The boss of this organisation, ATOS big cheese Keith Williams, receives a salary of £626,000 per year for doing the government’s dirty work as they cut jobs in vital services and replace paid staff with volunteers or a low paid replacement workforce. For more than two years, the company has wrongly refused benefits to nearly 30,000 people who have then had to fight for a year to have the decision overturned.
The task of organising a fight back on this front, however, should not be left to the disability groups alone, Liverpool Trades Council is to hold a conference to discuss the campaign against cuts and this is one of the main issues on the agenda. It is hoped that this will be a catalyst to provoke unions and other organisations to join forces with the community against the exploits of ATOS and build the resistance to making this organisation redundant; it is our business to put them out of business.
Also at the protest was an Anti-Deportation campaign for Sulaiman, a 17yr old Iraqi facing return to Iraq despite the fact his father was killed and he himself lost a leg in a car bomb explosion. Unfortunately, he didn’t qualify for asylum and the powers that be have deemed his country safe enough for him to return!
The campaign is at www:ipetitions.com/sulaimanmohammed
More information can be found on the RAPAR website www.rapar.org.uk and they can be contacted at admin(at)rapar.org.uk
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