Killer Coke Gears Up Again

Friday, October 13, 2006

On Thursday in the University Centre, members of the campus group Students Against Sweatshops (SAS) held a protest and awareness campaign in regards to the labour practices of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. According to SAS member Lisa Baumander, this is just the first of an ongoing series of events in anticipation of this year’s expiry of Coke’s exclusivity contract with the University of Guelph.

Thursday’s protest was rather no frills but still with serious purpose. SAS members including CSA Academic Commissioner Becky Wallace posed on the floor of the University Centre as killed Union leaders while Baumander and others passed out literature and gathered signatures on a petition to get the U of G administration to let exclusivity go once the contract expires.

The debate over Coke on campus, both the company’s monopoly through the exclusivity contract and its disastrous human rights record, has been one that’s happened before. In 2004, the Killer Coke campaign swept campus as student activists urged the campus community to learn more about Coca-Cola’s labour standards. The U of G campaign was one of many working in conjunction with the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke which is based in New York and run by members of SINALTRAINAL, Columbia’s National Union of Food Industry Workers.

Among Killer Coke’s charges against the soda maker are that the company tortured, intimidated, kidnapped or outright killed union officials from their bottling plants in Columbia. Killer Coke further charges the company with accusations of corruption and paint a picture of a corporation that cares nothing for the health and environmental impacts of its product on its employees and consumers. “The big part is education,” says Wallace, “some of us are so far removed that we don’t see the dead people and that we are in a way causing it.”

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