£280m Atos is at the centre of the government’s cuts to disability benefit
An Olympics sponsor at the centre of the government’s controversial cuts to disability benefits faces industrial action during the Games by PCS members trying to improve poverty pay levels.
Multi-million pound company Atos has faced heavy criticism for its handling of ‘back to work’ tests on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, which disabled people and campaigners say are solely designed to cut the welfare bill.
The union will this week begin balloting more than 1,500 of its members across Atos Healthcare and Atos IT Services after they voted by 95% and 89% respectively to reject below-inflation pay offers.
This could mean workers from sites across the UK taking strike action during the Olympic Games, which lists Atos as a ‘worldwide partner’.
The union’s 400 Atos Healthcare members are administrative and reception staff and industrial action may mean health assessment centres having to close.
In the IT division, staff work on a range of contracts, including round-the-clock technological support to BBC production staff and on-air presenters across the UK, IT support to the Welsh Assembly, and back-up and fault diagnosis on MoT test centre systems for the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency.
The latest figures show the company made annual profits worth more than £280 million, a 6.7% increase on the previous year.
Despite this it has refused to improve its offer, and has refused to commit to becoming a ‘living wage’ employer – which would only mean paying staff £7.20 an hour, or £8.30 an hour in London.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “In sponsoring the Olympics Atos would like the world to associate it with a spirit of effort and success, but the reality is that it makes its millions on the backs of its low-paid staff.
“The treatment of its own workers is given an added significance by its connection with the government’s brutal plans to cut vital benefits for sick and disabled people.”
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