DPAC’s #SummerofDiscontent week of action

DPAC protested Atos’ PIP assessments, cuts to social care, supported striking Southern rail network guards and occupied Parliament. Guest post by DPAC.

Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) occupy parliament on 19th July 2017

A round-up of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)s #SummerOfDiscontent week of action, 14th-21st July 2017. Guest post from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). Read the original article here.

DPAC began the fight back against the Tory/DUP minority government after the General Election in June with a week of action called #SummerOfDiscontent on 14-21 July 2017 to highlight the impact of the Atos PIP assessments on disabled people’s lives and appalling impact of social care cuts and the lack of accessible transport and to support the RMT dispute to keep guards on trains. DPAC also supported the NUT Demo “carnival of cuts” to highlight the lack of funding for schools and highlight the deepening segregation of disabled students in schools.

DPAC activists joined the striking Southern guards in solidarity on day 33 of the strike action at the RMT picket line at Victoria Station, London on Monday 10th July 2017 as Southern, Northern Arriva and Merseyrail guards went on strike to highlight the cutting of the train guards post on the three rail franchises and that Southern rail has rolled back the Turn Up and Go on 33 of its stations on the Southern rail network and the  rolling back of disabled people’s freedom to ride, plus highlighting the fact that 70 per cent of safety related incidents happen on 33 per cent of Driver-only operated train networks.

DPAC activist interviewed by a news reporter with microphone outside Parliament

On Friday 14th July 2017 began the DPAC week of action #SummerOfDiscontent which coincided with the opening ceremony of the Para Athletics World Championships at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford.  ATOS who carry out the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Contract for the DWP were partner sponsors for the event.  DPAC activists had an alternative opening ceremony outside the stadium to highlight the impact of PIP assessments on disabled people.  Activists handed out leaflets to members of the public to raise awareness of the distress of the PIP process and the impact on disabled people’s lives.

On Sunday 16th July 2017 DPAC activists supported NUT members on its demo in Central London called Carnival of Cuts.  DPAC members marched in solidarity with teachers, parents and school children to highlight the cuts to school budgets and to highlight the deepening segregation in schools with cuts to special education budgets and to support Lucy Cox and Tara Flood from ALLFIE who addressed the rally at Parliament Square about the impact of education cuts on disabled children’s lives.

Tuesday 18th July 2017 DPAC held a national day of action across the UK to highlight local cuts to services that disabled people use.  Bromley DPAC held a protest outside Bromley Central Library to protest against the sustainability development plans (STPs) for the NHS.  Bromley Health- Watch held a public meeting for residents to ask changes to ask questions about NHS changes in the local area.  Bromley DPAC activists joined with local NHS campaigners and held a protest outside the venue and asked local residents to sign a petition.  There was a question and answer session after the meeting which several Bromley DPAC activists asked questions to the NHS staff.

Wednesday 19th JulyDPAC Occupy Parliament to protest cuts. Read the full article here. 

Thursday 20th July 2017 DPAC members were joined by Transport for All, Association for British Commuters and RMT activists and members of the RMT executive and Assistant General Secretary, Steve Hedley outside the Department of Transport to highlight the removal of train guards from Southern Rail and the importance of safety and access on the rail network.  A change.org petition with 4,000 signatures asking Department of Transport to reconsider the position to keep guards on trains was handed in to staff at the Department of Transport.  After speeches  DPAC members blocked the road outside Department of Transport for over 10 minutes asking the department of transport to keep guards on trains and look into the rolling back of turn up and go policy on 33 of its stations on the southern rail network.

The week of action ended on Friday 21st July 2017 where a DPAC campaign against ATOS began 5 years ago in 2012, at ATOS HQ, Triton Square, Nr Warren Street.  Activists from Winvisible, Unite Community and Kilburn Unemployed workers group joined DPAC members for the protest outside ATOS HQ.

The protest began with a march with the banner listing the names of disabled people who have died due to the impact of the welfare reforms.  Speeches soon followed, with a picnic and noisemakers.

Activists then marched to Warren Street with their banners and blocked warren street for over 10 minutes to highlight the impact of 7 years of Brutal Tory Austerity on disabled people’s lives.

Photos from the week of action: https://www.facebook.com/paula.peters.79/media_set?set=a.1574305842610760.1073742091.100000940783562&type=3

Photos by Paula Peters.

Related articles and news coverage:

Photograph of Morning Star front page headline: Wheelchair Warriors Storm Parliament Photo of inside pages of the Morning Star newspaper with headlines reading 'Disabled people forced to share 'inhumane' care and 'Wheelchair Warriors Storm Parliament' Newspaper headline reading We dont deserve to be treated like guinea pigsNewspaper headline reading Dreams of Tokyo 2020 crushed by care cutsNewspaper headline reading Accessible transport means keeping staff

The Diary of a Disabled Southern Rail Passenger – Morning Star

Disability Activists Storm Parliament – Morning Star

Dreams of Tokyo 2020 glory for Paralympian boccia champion left in ruins by brutal care cuts – Mirror

Corbyn and May’s final PMQs of the summer was nearly shut down today – The Canary

Demonstrators in wheelchairs blockade House of Commons in protest at disability cuts – Independent

Disabled Protesters Block Entrance To House Of Commons In Campaign Against Cuts – Huffington Post

People in Wheelchairs Block MPs Entrance to House of Commons to Protest Against Cuts – Metro

Disability activists block House of Commons entrance in cuts protest – Guardian