A group of students protested the presence of French multinational company, ATOS, at two recruitment events on University Park Campus earlier this week.
Students were concerned over the actions of subsidiary company, ATOS Healthcare, who were contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to carry out Work Capability Assessments of people looking to claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
On Monday, students placed banners opposite the ATOS recruitment desk in Portland Building. ATOS’s contact at the University of Nottingham (UoN) told the protestors that pre-arranged permission was required to protest inside the building.
On Tuesday, a larger number of students appeared at the Careers in Science Fair. A group of students bore a petition entitled, ‘Students and staff against #AtosAtUoN’.
“The security guards came up to us, about eight of them. They asked us why we were here and at first told us we had to go outside to protest”.
The text of the petition stated: ‘ATOS abuses the UK’s disabled and vulnerable, makes people’s last weeks of life misery and even drives some to suicide. We don’t want them represented on University of Nottingham property’.
ATOS were due to stay at the careers fair until 2.30pm, but left at around 1pm after making multiple requests to have the protesters moved by campus security.
One of the protest organisers told Impact: “The security guards came up to us, about eight of them. They asked us why we were here and at first told us we had to go outside to protest.
“I have questions of the ethical value of allowing ATOS onto campus. They are a company who have placed a large amount of people in a destitute position”.
“They later changed their decision and said that we could stay inside as we are students, we remained peaceful and didn’t get in anyone’s way”.
One protestor told Impact: “I have questions of the ethical value of allowing ATOS onto campus. They are a company who have placed a large amount of people in a destitute position, including potentially some students of this very university.
Their presence here could be extremely upsetting for some people. At the very least, I’m glad to see people talking about the issues surrounding the company”.
Will Martinez, a student involved in the protest, said: “I got involved to create awareness among students and staff about what is happening to vulnerable people at the hands of ATOS”.
The University’s Careers and Employability Service informed Impact that ATOS booked their place to recruit with the Students’ Union themselves.
Image: George Maier