Christians join protests against Atos
Members of Christianity Uncut are joining protests this week against Atos, a company who are doing the government’s dirty work by throwing thousands of disabled people off benefits.
Atos have £3.1bn of contracts with the UK government and are responsible for assessing disabled people’s ability to work and entitlement to benefits. Thousands have seen their benefits scrapped or cut after Atos declared them to be fit for work. But over 40% of appeals against Atos ruling are upheld, suggesting that the company is either incompetent or operating with the goal of getting as many people off benefits as possible. This fits with the government’s goal of reducing the welfare bill (despite cutting taxes for the rich and spending billions on nuclear arms). It takes no account of the realities of illness or impairment, or of the barriers faced by disabled people who want to work but are prevented by inaccessible workplaces and employers’ prejudices.
There are protests going on across the UK this week, not least because Atos are a sponsor of the paralympics. The biggest protest is expected to be in London on Friday (31 August). Organised by UK Uncut and Disabled People Against Cuts, it will take place at Atos’ national offices. There is more information here, and you can also sign up for the event (and invite your friends) on Facebook. Several supporters of Chrsitianity Uncut will be there, while others are joining protests elsewhere, campaigning online, praying for those involved and/or raising the issue in their churches.
Jesus said that he had come to bring good news to the poor. Christianity Uncut believes that Jesus’ followers are called to take sides when the poorest members of society are under attack, while seeking to wage nonviolent struggles with love for enemies as well as allies.
To hear more about Atos and the criticisms of it, you can read this story in today’s Independent.