Welfare campaigners have recently come across this July 2009 announcement on the Atos website.
The Co-operative Group and the Co-operative Financial Services choose Atos Healthcare
London, 22 July 2009
Atos Healthcare, the number one occupational health provider in the UK1 and a business division of Atos Origin, today announced that it has won a contract with the Co-operative Group (tCG) and Cooperative Financial Services (CFS).
Under the new contract, Atos Healthcare will provide occupational healthcare services for the 82,000 employees who serve around 10 million customers a week through food, pharmacy, travel, funeral care, motor dealerships, legal and financial services. Atos Healthcare will provide pre-employment referrals and absence management including physiotherapy and workstation assessments to help improve employee wellbeing and reduce absence.
Atos Healthcare are the company that carry out Work Capability Assessments for the government to determine whether people are too sick to work and will receive benefits (Employment Support Allowance) or will be told that they are fit to work and abandoned on Job Seekers Allowance at a time when we are desperately short of jobs. People claiming Job Seekers Allowance and people receiving Employment Support Allowance but considered able to return to work in the near future are sent to work placements and flagship government schemes like The Work Programme. Assessments are wrong much of the time and people are dying because of them. More recently Atos Healthcare have also been awarded the contract to assess people for the new Personal Independence Payments which will replace DLA. As a result Atos have been the subject of much protest.
Many companies who use forced work from unpaid workers who receive JSA and ESA have been subject to boycotts by people revolted by what they see. At the same time we are in the midst of a global financial meltdown caused by international banks and so banks too are despised. The Co-operative Group touts itself as ethical and has been seen as one of the best alternatives for banking and grocery shopping and other services. Like many people, I shop and bank with The Co-op for these reasons and so I am disapointed to find that some of the money I spend with Co-op goes to Atos.
When asked via Twitter about their connection with Atos The Co-op replied:
I personally will stick with the Co-op for now but as a member I will try my best to put pressure on them to dump Atos. If that doesn’t work I will boycott them too. However, another worrying thing has emerged today. This morning a former Co-op bank employee told me that:
At the bank they stressed they weren’t ethical but a bank with an ethical investment policy, an entirely different proposition.
This raises whole new problems which I will investigate urgently.