April 16 2005
A group of activists have mounted a campaign over the past week to disable Coca-Cola vending machines in public buildings throughout Bristol in protest at Coca-Cola’s abuses of human rights, the environment and labour rights worldwide.
The independent activists, who are not aligned with any campaign or group, say they have targeted machines in public areas including leisure centres, swimming pools, hospitals, libraries and universities.
The activists say they took direct action against the company’s machines because it has a long history of putting profit before people and justice, and as their individual contribution to a worldwide boycott campaign against the drinks giant.
The group said the company stands accused of:
-Involvement in the assassination of trade union leaders in its bottling plants in South America
-The sacking of thousands of workers in South America, and their replacement with uncontracted casual workers on poverty wages
-Water theft from communities across India
-Poisoning of ground water across India
-Passing off toxic by-products to Indian farmers as fertiliser
-Selling drinks in India with 30 times the toxicity allowed in Europe or the US
-Racial discrimination in the US
-And other crimes worldwide
One of the activists, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “We decided to do something concrete and direct to highlight this company’s crimes. We think it’s unacceptable that public spaces throughout this city have Coca-Cola vending machines. We invite people in Bristol to find out for themselves about the company’s history of involvement in the murder of its workers and its disregard for communities’ rights to drinking water, and to choose not to consume its products. We invite those in charge of catering in buildings used by the people of Bristol to reconsider their choice of this criminal company’s unhealthy, unethical products. If people want to find out more about the international campaign, and the boycott, to force Coca-Cola to face up to its many crimes in the pursuit of profit, it’s not hard to do so on-line.”