COMMENT: The Atos cover-up continues


On Tuesday, I wrote about how myself and my fellow disabled journalist Paul Carter had taken a black marker pen to the prominent Atos logos on our London 2012 media accreditation.

As I wrote then, it was a small, but satisfying, gesture of solidarity with those disabled people who have been at the receiving end of the recklessness of Atos and its band of roving “healthcare professionals” who carry out “fitness for work” tests on behalf of the government.

But it seems Paul and I did not get there first. As early as last week, a disabled activist had a similar idea, and came up with the Twitter hashtag #coverupATOS to spread the word. His original message has now been retweeted 70 times.

In fact, these disabled activists are prepared to do much more than just ink out the Atos logo on our own media accreditation.

The followers of #coverupATOS have been taking white stickers – sometimes with the hashtag written on them – and placing them wherever they find an Atos logo on the Olympic Park.

This picture appears to show one such success, on the London 2012 “megastore”, although I haven’t yet been able to verify it, and the sticker was apparently removed soon afterwards.

One disabled activist – who has asked for his name not to be used – managed to cover up a couple of Atos logos around the Olympic Park, but when he tried the same trick in the Olympic Stadium, he was followed back to his seat by a member of the London 2012 security team, and escorted from the park. Fortunately, he only missed the last hour of the athletics session he was attending with his family.

But some disabled Twitter activists are apparently already following suit, and it will be fascinating to see how this develops over the last five days of the games, and particularly how vigilant the London 2012 organising committee LOCOG – and its security staff – will be in policing the pristine clarity of its sponsor’s logos.

And other disabled activists have come up with their own ways of protesting against Atos on the Olympic Park. The film-maker Liz Crow wore an armband bearing the message “Atos kills disabled people” when she visited the games this week.

PS For those questioning why any gesture against Atos is appropriate – rather than focusing solely on the government, which of course is ultimately responsible for the work capability assessment – here is what I wrote earlier this week:

For me, it is the sheer reckless abandon with which they have performed their duties, not even bothering to find accessible offices in which to carry out those assessments, or to train their assessors properly, seemingly doing everything they possibly can to find as many disabled and ill people as they can “fit for work” and so depriving them of vital financial support. The assessments, as carried out by Atos, are putting thousands of sick and disabled people under terrible, unnecessary strain, forcing them further into poverty, and are even responsible for some deaths – we will never know how many – including people driven by despair to suicide. “Just following orders” has never, ever, been an acceptable excuse, particularly for a company making such huge profits out of disabled people’s misery.