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Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 868, 2 September 2015: Killed by benefit cuts

Search site for keywords: Poverty - Disabled - Labour - Medical - Atos - Welfare - Cuts - Glasgow

Bin crash tragedy shows pressure on sick to work

Pressure and stress can be overwhelming, photo by Bhernandez (Creative Commons)

Pressure and stress can be overwhelming, photo by Bhernandez (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Jon Dale

Six Glasgow shoppers tragically died after a bin lorry ploughed into them last December. The recent fatal accident inquiry revealed the lorry driver had had previous black outs. He had not informed his employer or occupational health doctor.

Understandably, families of the victims are angry and want justice. If the driver had discussed his medical history, he would not have been passed fit to drive a large goods vehicle. He would not have been at the wheel that day.

However, the attacks on the driver in the media ignore the enormous pressures on disabled and ill people to remain at work. Those who don't work face benefit cuts.


Many disabled people suffered at the hands of Atos, the private company that the last Labour government gave a contract to carry out medical examinations on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions. They were wrongly found 'fit for work' and lost their benefits. The jobs they are forced into, when they can even find jobs, are mostly low paid and insecure.

Atos has now been replaced by another firm, 'Maximus'. But bullying people off benefits, started by Labour and continued by the Tories, remains the same.

Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith says "we need to be relentless in our efforts to get more people into work and off welfare." So why did his government close Remploy's factories that provided suitable work for many disabled workers? Why did they privatise the remaining advisory service?

The poverty facing disabled people unable to work - and stigma from constant attacks, echoed by Labour's leaders - encourages many to conceal their problems. There will be more fatal accidents as a result.

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