This Tuesday, July 22, sees the launch of a global campaign to boycott Coca Cola products in solidarity with Colombian trade unionists. Last year, 184 Colombia unionists were assassinated by paramilitaries just for being trade unionists. Over 4000 have been murdered since 1986. The boycott has been called by SINALTRAINAL, a Colombian foodworkers union currently suing two Colombian-based Coca-Cola bottlers - Bebidas y Alimentos and Panamerican Beverages - in US courts over their alleged role in the murder of trade unionists by right-wing paramilitaries. Coca Cola itself is not facing the lawsuit after a March 31 ruling dismissed them from the action, although this could still be reversed.
However, the global boycott has already been undermined by the stunning news that the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), which claims to represent the majority of Coca Cola workers worldwide, does NOT support the boycott and is calling on the international labour rights movement to reject it.
London protest: 6pm, tonight, Piccadilly CircusOn July 22, six protesters brought the Coca-Cola processing plant to a standstill. 11 people were arrested, but were later released without charge, after they have cost Coca-Cola at least £30,000 in lost revenue. The protestors say that they will continue their occupation of the Coke plant until "Coke issue a statement guaranteeing the physical safety of their workforce, and to respect their workers’ right to belong to a trade union." Read on...
Similar opposition from the 'official' trade unions to the SINALTRAINAL boycott call has been experienced by activists in Italy. At the same time, many US and Australian unions have passed resolutions in support. SINALTRAINAL is preparing a statement of its own, refuting the IUF's allegations. Indymedia UK has received similar statements from the Rome-based Latin American solidarity group, the Carlos Fonseca Committee.
The boycott and legal action are being supported by the main Colombian trade union federation - the CUT - the Stop Killer Coke Campaign, which includes the United Steelworkers of America and the International Labor Rights Fund, as well as Community Action for Justice in the Americas (CAJA) and the UK-based Colombian Solidarity Campaign. Actions are so far planned in Atlanta, Bogota, New York, London, Rome, and Melbourne.
The campaign against Coca Cola is designed to bring huge public pressure on the corporation to ensure that workers in its subsidiaries abroad are fully protected by the company from attacks, and are allowed to organise freely in trade unions. There are signs that the campaign is already having an impact with investors dumping large amounts of Coca Cola shares due to the uncertain climate in part created by the imminent boycott.
stuart h (uploaded by ian)