6pm Wednesday 15th February
G2 Lecture Theatre, Main Building, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Thornhaugh Street, London WC1 (nearest tube Russell Square)
Speaker: Ray Rogers, Director, Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
Dan Glass, UK Students Against Coke,
Tracey Moberly, artist and co-curator of Coke's Nazi Adverts exhibition
Andy Higginbottom, Colombia Solidarity Campaign
Chair: Dr. Sara Motta
Organised by SOAS Student Union and Colombia Solidarity Campaign
(Note: this event will be televised)
Coca-Cola is one of the world's most powerful and profitable corporations. Yet, despite repeated pleas for help, the corporation has not found the time or resources to insure the most basic safety of its workers or prevent massive environmental devastation in the communities where it does business.
Coca Cola in Colombia. SINALTRAINAL, the trade union that represents Coke workers in Colombia, have suffered the assassination of 8 of their leaders, killed by paramilitaries allegedly hired by Coca Cola management. The union
has also witnessed the imprisonment, forced displacement, torture and death threats against hundreds of workers at Coca Cola bottling plants throughout the country.
Coca Cola in India stands accused of draining and poisoning the water people need to survive. In Plachimada in Kerala, local people have held a 24 hour vigil since April 2001 outside a bottling factory which siphons off 1.5 million litres every day. Without water for their crops, thousands of poor farmers
have lost their livelihood.
Coca-Cola in Turkey fired 105 workers in May 2005. The day before Coca-Cola officials told workers that "if you don't quit the union, I will end your contract." On July 20th, while a sacked worker representative attempted to
reach a temporary resolution, Turkish riot police brutally beat up roughly 150 workers and their families with clubs. This occured inside the Coca-Cola compound and with the approval of Coke officials.
In the US: 20 universities and colleges have already boycotted Coke products including New York, Michigan and Rutgers. A massive campaign is building up. The Teamsters, the largest Coke union in the world, supports the campaign. This support was reaffirmed in January 2006.
The Campaign in the UK: This year the contracts that UK students have collectively with Coca Cola are up for renewal. Its failure to address human rights and environmental concerns leads us to believe that the only
incentive for Coca-Cola to change its behavior and act in good faith towards those affected is through us ending our student union contracts with them.
YOU Can Play an Important Part in the UK Students Campaign against Coke
Over the past two years the campaign against Coca-Cola in our Students Unions has been steadily growing and during the next few months we want it to explode! On the 28th - 30th March, at NUS Conference, students will vote
on whether we should continue to do business with Coca-Cola. We are adamant that contracts should not be renewed. Only strong ecomomic action will put critical pressure on Coca-Cola to make REAL operational change.
If your Student Union buys its beverages through NUSSL then:
* Coca Cola has an exclusive contract: your Student Union must purchase from Coke
* Your union cannot fully boycott Coca-Cola whilst it uses NUSSLs services
* NUSSL must follow NUS conference policy. Hence if students choose to hold the company to account by choosing to end contracts with Coca-Cola then Coke will no longer be sold or able to advertise in our student union.
NUSSL's Ethical and Environmental committee is currently "constructively engaging" with Coca-Cola, however nearly two years since this process was started, Coca-Cola has still not responded satisfactorily to the allegations made by the communities in India and Colombia. They recently published a document entitled 'Key Arguments for Constructive Engagement' which was both misleading and inaccurate. SINALTRAINAL requested that NUSSL respect their initiatives and the memory of the victims. The Colombia Solidarity Campaign argues for an alternative methodology to Constructive Engagement -one which engages with Social Movements from the Global South who are resisting the abuses of multinationals.
Our actions here can make a difference. We have already submitted a motion not to renew the Coke contracts. Get yourself or your delegates to NUS conference to support our motion.
Boycott Coca Cola products in your personal life and tell your friends why. Write to the corporation. Be a part of this growing international movement which is holding Coca-Cola to account.
For more information:
UK Students Against Coke web
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke web
Colombia Solidarity Campaign web
http://www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/ e-mail: Info@colombiasolidarity.org.uk
Take this leaflet, spread the word FAST and come on Wednesday.
UK Students Against Coke's response to Independent's article
We are writing in regards to the article 'Universities threaten to boycott Coca-Cola over Colombia record' (06/02/06). As you have chosen to write an article about the boycott having only talked to Coca-Cola and NUSSL, we would like to bring in a missing perspective, that of those who are suffering from Coke's actions and who are leading the International Campaign to hold Coca-Cola to account. Dear Editor,
We are writing in regards to the article 'Universities threaten to
boycott Coca-Cola over Colombia record' (06/02/06). As you have chosen to write an article about the boycott having only talked to Coca-Cola and NUSSL, we would like to bring in a missing perspective, that of those who are suffering from Coke's actions and who are leading the International Campaign to hold Coca-Cola to account.
Here we could talk about how communities in Indian villages are demanding that thebottling plants in drought areas be closed or the Turkish Coca-Cola workers who sufficient violent trade union repression. However here we will give the perspective from Colombia.
Over the past 15 years SINALTRAINAL, the trade union which represents the majority of Coca-Cola workers in Colombia, have had 8 members assassinated, 45 forced into hiding, 65 received death threats and 3 forced into exile. There is compelling evidence that right wing paramilitiries who carried out the above were working with, or for, plant managers.
For example, Coca-Cola workers allege that in 1996, the plant manager at Carepa publically said that orders had been given to the paramilitaries to carry out the task of destroying the union. On Dec. 5, 1996, paramilitaries enterered the Coke bottling plant in Carepa and killed Isidro Segundo Gil, a member of the union's executive board. An hour later they kidnapped another union leader and torched
the union's offices. The next day the paramilitaries returned,
summoned all the workers together and demanded that they sign prepared statements of resignation from the union, which those present say bore the bottler's letterhead.
Sinaltrainal has tried repeatedly to engage with Coca-Cola but the company refuses to talk to them. Hence they launched the boycott as a mechanism to hold Coca-Cola to account after the company failed to respond adequately while enjoying the benefits of cheaper, non-unionised labour.
One of SINALTRAINAL's demand is that Coca-Cola agrees to extend their human rights policy to cover their bottling plants. This would seem an obvious step for a company that claims to uphold human rights. However UK Students Against Coke believe that only strong economic action will force Coke, a corporation whose legal obligation is to its shareholders, to make real operational change.
The University of New York recently removed all Coke products from campus after a two year engagement period during which Coke manipulated and obstructed the process. Now that Coke are out, New York Univeristy have far greater leverage to force Coke to change their practices.
Sadly this has not been sufficient to force Coke to address the demands hence we are calling for the NUS to cease all economic relations with Coca-Cola until they do. We believe that if UK students vote for the boycott, Coke will be forced to negotiate a fair solution.
Bertie Russell, Univeristy of Leeds
Lara Coleman, Bristol
Dan Glass, Sussex
Tom McLachlan, Liverpool
Tom Dale, Oxford
Claire Hall, UK Students Against Coke
Colombia Solidarity Campaign