Dozens of other workers have been intimidated, kidnapped, or tortured. In Career, members of the paramilitary murdered union leader Sister Gill in broad daylight inside his factory gates. They returned the next day and forced all of the plant’s workers to resign from their union by signing documents on Coca-Cola letterhead. The most recent murder attempt occurred on August 22, 2003, when two men riding motorcycles fired shots at Juan Carols Galois, a worker leader at Coca-Cola’s Barnstormers plant.
There is substantial evidence that managers of several bottling plants have ordered assaults to occur and made regular payments to leaders of the paramilitary groups carrying out the attacks.
These ongoing abuses have oaken their toll on Coca-Cola workers’ efforts to organize. Their union, SANITARIAN has suffered a dramatic loss in membership, as worker leaders are intimidated or forced into hiding. SENATORIAL has appealed for solidarity and allies in the U. S. Labor and social justice movements have answered their call.
The United Steelworkers and the International Labor Rights Fund have filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola on behalf of the union and victims’ families in U.
S. Federal court. Other unions including the Teamsters and many community groups have launched public campaigns targeting Coke. What are workers in Colombia demanding? Acknowledge underlying Facts. The events alleged in the four Complaints filed in federal district court in Miami, Florida are objectively verifiable. For example, Mr.. Sister Gill was murdered in the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Career.
The Plaintiffs are extremely 8 distraught that Coca-Cola’s public statements have labeled these allegations as ‘false” since this constitutes an effort to alter the historical record.
Public Statements Denouncing Anti-union Violence. Coca-Cola and Panamas/ FEMMES should issue strong, public statements throughout the press in Colombia and in the world denouncing violence, and particularly anti-union lenience, by all armed actors in Colombia. The companies should state that such violence, regardless of who commits it, is seen by corporations such as themselves as being bad for business and investment.
Specifically, they should publicly state that if the paramilitaries see themselves as protecting the interests of domestic and foreign investment, they are wrong; that their violent conduct, especially against trade unionists, is bad for business and investment and must cease. Coca-Cola and Panamas/FEMMES must also make public statements in the press indicating their belief that, contrary to the tenements made by local Colombian management, Senatorial is not connected with any armed groups in Colombia, and acknowledge that the violent acts described in the four federal complaints was unlawful.
Human Rights Committee. Coca-Cola and Panamas/FEMMES must agree to support the creation of an independent committee to which workers can submit complaints about anti-union violence and intimidation at or around any Coca- Cola bottling plant. The Committee will work with such employees and the union to address such concerns in a productive way. Investigation and Training: Coca-Cola and Panamas/FEMMES must encourage the proper authorities in Colombia to investigate links between local Colombian management and the armed groups, particularly the paramilitaries.
Further, the companies must conduct their own internal investigations and remove management with such links. This investigation must be subject to independent review. Coca-Cola and Panamas/FEMMES should also conduct training with all management personnel and employees in which they strongly stress that any collusion with armed actors or any encouragement of anti-union violence by these actors, whether material or moral, will not be tolerated and will result in immediate discharge.
Address Anti-Loon Impact of Violence. As a consequence of the annotation violence that is the subject of the four legal cases, SENATORIAL has suffered significant losses of members and other institutional damage. In order to address this distinct aspect of the violence, Coca-Cola must agree to require its bottlers to negotiate with SENATORIAL and to agree to a process to repair the damage suffered by SENATORIAL.
This shall include prohibiting any of the Coca-Cola bottlers from referring to the union in a derogatory way, such as calling it a “guerilla union,” reinstating union members who fled following specific death hearts from paramilitaries or who were discharged unlawfully for their union activity, and allowing SENATORIAL to have access to workers prior to elections in any of the subject bottling plants where SENATORIAL was decertify following the acts Of violence due to lost membership from terror and intimidation.
Cessation of Criminal Charges. Coca-Cola and Panamas/ FEMMES must stop pressing criminal legal action against the Plaintiffs as they have done since shortly after, and in retaliation for, the Plaintiffs’ commencement of the civil human rights lawsuit in Miami. Compensation for Victims Environmental Devastation in India (selections from nondisclosure. Org) 9 Communities across India are under assault from Coca-Cola practices in the country. A pattern has emerged as a result of Coca-Cola’s bottling operations in India.
Communities across India living around Coca-Cola’s bottling plants are experiencing severe water shortages, directly as a result of Coca-Cola’s massive extraction of water from the common groundwater resource. The wells have run dry and the hand water pumps do not work any more. Studies, including one by the Central Ground Water Board in India, have confirmed the significant depletion of the water table. When the water is extracted from the common groundwater resource by digging deeper, the water smells and tastes strange.
Coca-Cola has been indiscriminately discharging its waste water into the fields around its plant and sometimes into rivers, including the Ganges, in the area. The result has been that the groundwater has been polluted as well as the soil. Public health authorities have posted signs around wells and hand pumps advising the community that the water is unfit for human consumption. In two communities, Appalachia and Impending, Coca-Cola was distributing its solid waste to farmers in the area as “fertilizer”. Tests conducted by the BBC found cadmium and lead in the waste, effectively making the waste toxic waste.
Coca-Cola stopped the practice of distributing its toxic waste only when ordered to do so by the state government. Tests conducted by a variety of agencies, including the government of India, confirmed that Coca-Cola products contained high levels of pesticides, and as a result, the Parliament of India has banned the sale of Coca-Cola in its cafeteria. However, Cloacae not only continues to sell drinks laced with poisons in India (that could never be sold in the US and ELI), it is also introducing new products in the Indian market.
And as if selling drinks with EDT and other pesticides to Indians was not enough, one of Cocoa’s latest bottling facilities to open in India, in Bali, is located in an area with a severe contamination of arsenic in its groundwater. Destroying Lives, Livelihoods and Communities Water shortages, pollution of groundwater and soil, exposure to toxic waste and pesticides is having impacts of massive proportions in India. In a country where over 70% of the population makes a living related to agriculture, stealing the water and poisoning the water and oil is a sure recipe for disaster.
Thousands of farmers in India have been affected by Coca-Cola’s practices, and Coca-Cola is guilty of destroying the livelihoods of thousands of people in India. Unfortunately, we do not even know the extent of the damage as a result from exposure to the toxic waste and pesticides as these are long term problems. Most affected are the marginalia communities such as the Advises (Indigenous People’s) and Dalais (formerly untouchables), as well as the low-income communities, landless agricultural workers and women.
Taken in its entirety, that’s a lot of people in India. The Struggles The arrogance of Coca-Cola in India is not going unanswered. In fact, the growing opposition to Coca-Cola- primarily from Coca-Cola affected communities- has spread so rapidly and gained so much strength that Coca-Cola is now on the defensive. Kola Dear, Restaurant In the state of Restaurant, the High Court ruled in November 2004 that all soft drinks in the state must state the level of pesticides on the product label, in addition to the ingredients.
This 10 unprecedented ruling came only three weeks after a 2,000 strong demonstration to shut down the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kola Dear, on the outskirts of Jasper in Restaurant. Over 50 villages are experiencing water shortages as a result of Coca-Cola’s indiscriminate mining of water, and “struggle committees” have been formed in at least 32 villages to confront Coca-Cola’s abuses. The Central Ground Water Board, a government agency, not only confirmed the declining water table as a result of Coca-Cola’s indiscriminate running of the water, it also faulted Coca-Cola for creating “ecological imbalances” in the area.
In response to the court order to state the level of pesticides on their labels, Coca-Cola appealed the decision on the rounds that such an action would force them to compromise with their “commercial confidentiality”! Coca-Cola also submitted to the court that small traces of EDT and other pesticides are not harmful “to the health of the consumers. ” The court rejected the appeal, and significantly, stated that “commercial interests are subservient to fundamental rights. Appalachia, Kraal The single largest Coca-Cola bottling plant in India, in Appalachia, Kraal, remains shut down since March 2004. Initially ordered to shut down until June 15 (for arrival of monsoon rains) by the state government to ease rough conditions, the Appalachia bottling plant has been unable to open because the local village council (penchant) is REFUSING to reissue Coca-Cola a license to operate. The village council has maintained that the plant needs to shut down because it has destroyed the water system in the area as well as polluted the area.
The penchant is an elected body at the most local level in India, and forms the building block of democracy in India – Penchant Raja- a model promoted extensively by Mahatma Gandhi. Cloacae, in typical fashion, has chosen to undermine democracy by appealing to the courts that he penchant has no jurisdiction over the plant and Coca-Cola, and that it should be the state of Kraal that makes the decision. Coca-Cola’s efforts to undermine local governance is being followed closely as the court ruling in favor of the penchant could set a significant precedence for local governance.
The struggle in Appalachia is the oldest struggle against Coca- Cola in India and there has been a 24/7 vigil directly in front of the factory gates since April 22, 2002. The struggle in Appalachia has also enjoyed significant victories. In December 2003, the High court, in an extremely significant decision, ruled that Coca-Cola HAD to seek alternative sources of water and that it could extract only as much water from the common groundwater resource as a farmer owning 34 acres of land could. The justification being that the plant is located on 34 acres.
Furthermore, the court held that the groundwater belonged to the people and the Government had no right to allow a private party to extract such a huge quantity of ground water which was “a property held by it in trust”. In another significant action in August, 2004, the Kraal State Pollution Control Board (PC), acting upon a Supreme court order, directed the Coca-Cola company to ensure that water supply through pipeline is delivered to the houses of all the affected communities in the vicinity.
While the various court and government agencies are validating and acting upon the community concerns, Coca-Cola is busy putting more money into a public relations strategy designed to convince everyone that they have nothing to do with the water scarcity and pollution in Appalachia and in India. Impending, Attar Pradesh 11 More so than other struggles against Coca-Cola in India, the communities in Impending, a Village about 20 SMS from the holy city of Varnish, have more of an uphill battle because the local and state officials are turning a blind eye to the concerns of the communities.
The water table has declined between 25-40 feet in the last four years, and Coca-Cola has been discharging its waste water into the surrounding fields, and now into a canal that feeds into the river Ganges, a holy river for millions of Indian. The landscape is very rural, and farming is the main source of livelihood in the area. Many farmers have yet to be compensated for the land that was taken from them in order to lid the Coca-Cola bottling facility. The movement to shut down the Coca- Cola plant has been growing rapidly for the last year.
In August 2003, community members entered the office of the Regional Pollution Control Board in Varnish, and to protest their inaction, dumped sacks full of sludge from the Coca-Cola plant on the table of the regional officer. In September 2003, over 500 people marched to the Coca-Cola factory gates and were physically attacked and beaten by police and private security guards. In October 2003, a march was organized from the Coke plant in Impending to a Pepsi plant in Jaunt, about 150 km away.
And in mid-December 2003, ten activists went on a five-day hunger strike in front of the plant. They were supported by fifty people sitting with them each day, and about 300 people went on hunger strikes of varied duration. And in June 2004, hundreds conducted a sit-in in front of the state assembly in Locknut. So far, not only have the authorities not cooperated at all, they have consistently refused to make good on their promises of inquiries and investigations to look into Coca-Cola’s practices that are depleting the groundwater and polluting the water and soil.
In addition, the authorities have trumped up criminal charges against some of the key leaders of the struggle, and issued orders to these leaders preventing them from “shouting slogans or making inflammatory speeches within 300 meters of the plant”. The communities are determined to close down the factory in Impending, and the local organizers have been extremely successful in garnering local support in the area. They have also organized the community around a new Coca-Cola plant in Bali, about 250 SMS away.
From November 15-24, 2004, a march will be conducted from the Coca-Cola factory gates in Bali to the Coca-Cola factory gates in Impending, demanding the closure of both the facilities. What are communities in India demanding? The first step that Coca-Cola must take is to admit to the severity of problems it has caused in India, and then find ways to address them operationally: They must permanently shut down the bottling facilities in Impending, Kola Dear and Appalachia. They must compensate the affected community members.