Over a period of 2 1/2 hours on Monday 6th June around 50 people joined the picket, called by the Crutch Collective and Black Triangle, of the Atos Recruitment Evening in Glasgow. Some had travelled from Edinburgh and as far away as Berwick. Some officials of the PCS union were able to attend at the start and took away some leaflets. The admin. staff at Atos are members of PCS.
The police were present from early on and stopped people from blocking the doors. With a couple of exceptions most of the 20 or so doctors and nurses going into the Recruitment Evening ignored the request not to take jobs with Atos. This was despite being told of the people with cancer and terminal illnesses having their benefits cut by Atos and the suicides caused by the stress of the relentless and constant reassessment by Atos. They were also given leaflets detailing the fatal consequences of benefit changes as documented by several mental health charities. The leaflet also quoted a former Atos employee in Scotland who quit, because the medical assessments are designed to catch out disabled people.
A nurse heckled those inside through a megaphone. The leaflet was read out through the megaphone to the doctors and nurses waiting in the lobby and at the presentation.
John McArdle of Black Triangle spoke to the crowd of the need to keep the campaign going until the medical assessments are carried out by a public body again. Plans were made for the next demo. A representative from Citizens United, another direct action orientated anti-cuts group in Glasgow expressed their desire to work with us in the future.
We got a clearer idea of the future some of us face as we chatted to some homeless people waiting for the Salvation Army food van who had also had their disability benefits cut despite having serious physical and mental health problems.
A handful of the doctors and nurses who attended the Recruitment Evening were escorted by the police through the crowd when they left by the main entrance. Debates were held about whether we should call them scabs or not. The rest had to sneak out via the staff exit like rats. No one was arrested and we were able to make our presence felt for the whole of the event. We are getting substantially bigger. We see the picket as a victory. Atos now know that any future recruitment evenings will need extra security and the presence of the police. The doctors and nurses who chose to forget their medical ethics and any social conscience had to endure the most unpleasant environment possible. The myth of the Atos PR about the ease and convenience of the Atos professional employee lifestyle has been destroyed.
Thanks again to everyone who attended and helped promote the picket.
The Anti-Atos Recruitment Evening leaflet can be found at the Crutch Collective website.