Colin Roy Hunter was one of 50 who protested outside the Atos reporting centre in Manchester on Tuesday of this week.
“Every week 32 people die after failing the test for the new incapacity benefit,” he said. “Every night I can’t sleep through worry that a letter from Atos will come through the door.”
He added, “The benefits we receive are so that disabled people can live a life.” Colin suffers from a number of medical conditions that make everyday living difficult—never mind attending a protest.
The Manchester protest was one of a series held across the country called by Disabled People Against the Cuts to coincide with the Atos-sponsored Paralympic Games.
After a rally outside the Atos centre, rather than march up to the entrance, protesters blocked the road. “We then marched around the centre of Manchester,” said Emma, one of the protesters. “At one point we had to turn back though—as there was no wheelchair access.”
After reporting for an Atos interview, one man in a wheelchair joined and then led the march. Some workers from the Atos centre signed a letter of support.
The day after the protest Colin reported, “I’m so sore after being in a wheelchair yesterday, too much twisting and pushing. Now my arthritis has flared up. But it was worth it. I felt really happy yesterday.”
Just over 50 picketed at the Atos assesment centre in Sheffield on Tuesday, including disabled activists, pensioners, UK Uncut and Occupy supporters.
Some members of the PCS union from the nearby Job Centre who had been out on stirike two weeks ago joined the anti-Atos picket.
There were some scuffles as one disabled man attempted to enter the DWP and Atos buildings to use the toilet. Private security guards manhandled bystanders and tried to snatch a camera from a protester filming the disturbance.
After the picket, a dozen activists headed off with banners to leaflet against Atos—and to build the 20 October TUC demonstration against austerity.