Coca-Cola: Ice Cold MURDER

Martha Sneyd calls for free consumer choice on campus.

What comes to mind when you think of Coca-Cola? Let me guess… that Christmas time is here? Ah the powers of advertising. Well it makes sense; there is a small chance that their sales would drop if the bodies of murdered Coca-Cola union members featured in their adverts, rather than the jolly face of Santa Claus.

So what have Coca-Cola actually done? Well, they’ve done a great job on getting us in the Christmas spirit every year! But for the employees at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Third World countries, spirits are running slightly lower. Here’s why:

Let’s start with the most serious allegations that have been made in Colombia and Guatemala; that Coca-Cola have been formally accused of hiring militia groups to assassinate employers known to having intentions of forming Labour Unions. The systematic kidnapping, torture, rape and murder of union members and their families continues in a climate of civil conflict and unrest that allows these atrocities to be concealed.

The allegations made in India against Coca-Cola involve draining poverty stricken, drought-prone areas of water in order to meet the demands needed by Coca-Cola to continue their vast production of the beverage.  As a consequence of this resource exploitation there has been an alarming rise in suicide rates amongst peasant farmers who live in surrounding areas and are unable to grow the crops they need to feed their families.

Despite protests in Kenya, Coca-Cola continues to dump toxic waste water from the bottling plants into previously clean rivers that are now black with noxious chemicals, polluting the surrounding residential areas. Other allegations include violence against union members in Turkey, labour abuse and corruption in the Philippines, extortion and abduction in Pakistan, and fraud in Mexico.  The complete list of allegations and law suits can be found on this website.

That’s one side of Coca-Cola you don’t see in the jovial adverts. As fee paying students, I believe we have the right to make ethical choices about what we consume on campus, but as it stands, Hartley Library, Avenue Campus and Lattes all stock drinks owned only by Coca Cola.

From a university that markets itself as ‘Green’, we deserve better. The ‘Licensed To Kill’ campaign aims to raise awareness of Coca-Cola’s crimes against humanity and the environment around the world, and to question the lack of consumer choice available on campus at Southampton.

It’s an opportunity for all of us to stand up for something that’s right, and get pro-active in the fight for international justice and consumer choice right here on campus. Show your support by going to the Facebook page ‘Coca-Cola: Licensed to Kill?’ and join us in our Coca-Cola boycott in week 9 (26th-30th November). We will also be creating a petition to show we mean business. Get active, get involved!