Yesterday (Wednesday 19th February 2014) was the day Atos offices across the UK were targeted by a day of demonstration, and yet there is no mention on any of the mainstream press!
The demonstration started in Leeds at 8am, where activists gathered together with a giant inflatable rat and sound system – united in protesting against the Work Capability Assessment Atos administers on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions, and the resulting number of deaths of claimants as a direct result of Atos’ incompetent decisions.
Other demonstrations took place across an estimated 94 other locations, although this number is constantly growing as the movement has been an autonomous non-hierarchical grass roots campaign from the outset many campaign and community groups have organised events independently.
The demonstration taking place at the London HQ of ATOS included talks from campaigners Ian Jones from War on Welfare, Paula Peters from Disabled People Against Cuts, Theresa Coles from ATOS Miracles, Sonia Poulton journalist and Natalie Bennett the Leader of the Green Party, all of which were streamed live.
Thousands of people watched the live streams, with the stream from London attracting over 25,000 viewers alone.
The demonstration in Wimbledon prompted a walk out of assessors who went home and Doctors and assessors did not go into work at Southend today at all.
Atos Healthcare issued a statement on their website calling for peaceful demonstrations and that none of their staff or attendees for assessment became targets of the demonstrators. In the statement, Atos clarifies their position and claim that the company is only carrying out instructions from Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions.
The strange thing is that a major national demonstration targeting the offices of a government contractor which is renowned for incompetence has attracted zero attention from the mainstream press.
Looking at the websites of national and local papers in the early hours of this morning revealed that this major event has not been covered at all. A further check at midday and there was still no coverage – not even a small paragraph somewhere on the front page, or in the more specialised sections of many of the national and local newspapers, let alone coverage by the big dailies or the BBC.
It is not as though the demonstrations were not taken seriously by the authorities. In London, 150 police officers were deployed for the demonstration, including riot equipped officers and vehicles.
Disability rights organisations, political parties, student unions, and other organisations attended the demonstrations.
All of the demonstrations were peaceful – perhaps that is a reason the mainstream press preferred to cover trite and insignificant stories about the Brit awards, rather than covering a story which has a real impact on real people, involving an organisation that has been responsible for the death of many they have wrongly assessed as being fit for work.
Perhaps it is a sign of the times where the culture of ‘celebrity’ is more important that social care and protecting the poor and vulnerable from exploitation. Or perhaps the major so-called ‘media’ which claims to be independent really isn’t that independent at all, and would rather make sure they keep their government masters happy than report real news.
Whatever their reason(s), it is a disgrace that the mainstream media have not (so far anyway) covered a major national demonstration that is the voice of real people who are being affected by an incompetent and corrupt government.
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