A national day of action was called for Monday 2 March to protest the ongoing use of the discredited Work Capability Assessments to determine fitness for work or otherwise and to leave Maximus, the company that has taken over from Atos to carry these out, in no doubt that resistance will be ongoing.
2 March is the first working day of Maximus' new contract and protests were held in 30 UK towns and cities including here in Wrexham and at Maximus HQ in central London. A solidarity demo was also organised in Toronto at the offices of Maximus Canada. In Wrexham, there was a small but highly visible protest outside the DWP and Medical Examination Centre on Grosvenor Road.
Read Disability Wales' take on Maximus for some background and for insight into how benefit claimants are being left with no means of supporting themselves, some starving to death or driven to suicide, see this Guardian article and suicides reported on the Benefit Tales blog.
The DPAC flyer handed out in Wrexham today describes Maximus as:
a giant American health insurance company. They have been found guilty of massive fraud against the US government, disability, race and gender discrimination, and fined for improper expenses claims. Now they have been employed by the UK government to conduct over a million new assessments for ESA - the main sickness benefit if you can't work - and drastically reduce the numbers of sick and disabled people who are passed as unfit. And Maximus are also selling 'occupational health' services to other UK companies.
We want Maximus to go the way of Atos. They are not welcome here. But just as important we are demanding that the government scrap the unfair and damaging work capability assessment. When medical evidence is needed it should come from a person's own doctor.
Welfare Not Warfare
Today was also a day of action against nuclear weapons, the Burghfield Lockdown, with activists from all over the UK and Europe converging on the nuclear weapons factory in Berkshire to protest against the billions of pounds being spent on Trident and due to be spent on its replacement.
The government doesn't have any trouble allocating huge sums of money for nuclear weapons that threaten all life on earth while sick and disabled people, along with many others, are being denied even the most basic subsistence income. It is becoming increasingly clear that government benefit policy and practice are deliberately genocidal - it's all part of the war on the poor.
Protest in Wrexham
With five times as many people this afternoon as attended this protest at the DWP in Wrexham 11 months ago (although more did come along later on that day), we managed to have a highly visible presence on the corner of busy Grosvenor Road and Gerald Street outside the DWP and Medical Examination Centre where Maximus will have started work this morning. The large number of motorists beeping in support of the demonstration as well as the pedestrians who took flyers and stopped to chat indicated that the public is under no misapprehension about the government's malevolent intentions towards the sick and disabled.