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Atos, sponsor of the Paralympic Games, forcing disabled people to return to work
By (6 September 2012) Translated by Anita Bellowes
The French company Atos, Official Sponsor of the London Paralympics Games, under the leadership of Thierry Breton, is hunting down disabled people receiving benefits and employees incapacitated through illness. This is done as an agent of the British government which seeks to reduce its welfare bill. ((Allegedly))British athletes are leading a rebellion by refusing to display the Atos logo.
The French IT multinational, whose current CEO is Thierry Breton (former CEO of Thomson, France-Télécom, and former Finance minister), is today facing strong criticism in Great Britain for its role in the hunt for 'fake' claimants of social benefits.
Atos, Europe's second largest IT company and the 5th biggest globally, is a major sponsor of the Olympics Games as well as the Paralympics Games. But it has been unfortunate in choosing to display a strong presence at the London Paralympics Games and found itself the target of protests by disabled activists and their supporters (see videos and interviews in the British daily newspaper ). British athletes deliberately hid their endorsement during the Paralympics Games opening ceremony in order to not display the Atos logo.
The hunt for benefits recipients
Its British subsidiary, Atos Healthcare, is responsible for conducting the testing of Employment and Support Allowance beneficiaries, which is received by people unable to work. This contract, initially set up as a pilot project with the Labour government, has been extended nationwide by the Conservative government. Atos Healthcare, which prides itself on being the largest employer of doctors and nurses in the United Kingdom after the National Health Service, conducted 738 000 medical assessments during 2011. Its heavy handed methods have been strongly criticised by doctors and social workers. Televised documentaries  have shown that Atos assessors were set predetermined targets, even before they conducted the assessments.
No less than 40% of decisions to remove benefits are appealed (with a success rate of 38%). And that does not include all the vulnerable people unwilling or unable to assert their rights . Yet, David Cameron's government seems satisfied by these results. At the beginning of August they did not hesitate to enter another contract with Atos, this time targeting people in receipt of disability benefits – with the predetermined objective of a 20% reduction of this budget.
A 3.8 Billion Euro contract
The massive welfare disinvestment policy of the Conservative government is a true goldmine for a variety of consultants, audit and services firms responsible for conducting these « purges ». Contracts made with Atos to assess – and remove benefits from – hundreds of thousands of people on benefits are worth over £3 billion in total (3.8 billion Euros) , for various Ministries. The start of the Olympic Games was marked by the spectacular failure of the security system, subcontracted to another government contract competitor of Atos, G4S. The army had to be called to the rescue.
The campaign against Atos has active support from , the social protest movement against the austerity policy and budget cuts in the United Kingdom. Thierry Breton's firm is also involved in France in implementation of electronic voting for parliamentary elections, which the difficulties that we all know about (read our articles).