CAMPAIGNERS were met by Bolton West MP Julie Hilling as they protested against disability assessors Atos outside their offices.
Members of Unite and Bolton Against the Bedroom Tax handed out hundreds of leaflets by the Octagon car park as part of a national campaign calling on the government to stop work capability assessments and end their association with Atos.
The company has come under fire for its role in assessing people who are receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Incapacity Benefit by critics, who say they have needlessly stripped millions of vulnerable people of much-needed benefits and forced them into work.
Ms Hilling gave a speech to protesters and passers-by, saying she would continue to press the government to end “unfair discrimination” against the disabled and vulnerable.
She added: “We have got to say to Atos, the Department for Work and Pensions and our government to stop harming ordinary people who are trying to live their lives in dignity, and not be driven mad and put into terrible circumstances.
“What they are doing is cruel, inhuman and should not be happening in a civilised society.”
One of the demonstrators Janette Jones, aged 50, was told she was fit to work by Atos, despite suffering from crippling depression that made every-day social encounters unbearable.
It meant she could no longer receive ESA, and her benefits went down £100 to £70 a week.
Ms Jones, from Horwich, said: “I waited nine months for an appeal, and when the tribunal started it should have lasted 30 minutes — it only took 10 minutes.
“The whole thing was awful. Atos work on a quota system and it needs to stop — I felt like I was destined to fail the test.
“But I’m one of the lucky ones.”