The people of Plachimada, in Kerala
, rallied together
on Friday April 22nd, for the third aniversary of the Plachimada Coca Cola
plant, and an accompanying 3 year, 24hrs day 7days a week, protest vigil outside it's gates, to publicly show it's opposition to the corporation's existing and planned environmental degredation in the area.
This has been the most recent of ongoing opposition to Coca-Cola's inethical conduct in India, where they have been alleged to have caused severe water shortages, water and land pollution, the distribution of toxic waste as fertilizer
, and for the sale drinks containing high levels of pesticides
. Coca-Cola is further negligent as it has not reported any of the damages it has made, continuing operations. Tens of thousands of community members, have been participating in and International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable for it's conduct, with plants in Mehdiganj, Uttar Pradesh
, Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu Kaladera, Rajastan
, facing increasing resistance to their operations as community members demand they are shut-down.
[ India Resource Centre
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| Coca-Cola in India [PDF]
| Stolen Generation
On the 8th April a division bench of the High Court of Kerala permitted Coca-Cola to extract up to 500,000 litres of water from the common groundwater resource per day at its Plachimada facility to the surprise of the community, who have kept the bottling facility shut down, be intense pressure, for over a year now. The local Perumatty village council (Panchayat), which had refused to renew Coca-Cola's license to operate, citing it for over-extraction of water. [read more]
"It was a decision that acknowledged the growing resentment against the multinational company," said A. Krishnan, Panchayat President and a member of the Janata Dal, a constituent of the opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala. "The Panchayat's decision was based on Section 232 of the Kerala Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 giving the local body sufficient authority to notify that no place within its jurisdiction shall be used for purposes offensive or dangerous to human life or health," said Mr. K.N.Unnikrishnan, Special Grade Secretary of the Panchayat.
The 2005 Supreme Court ruling was in response to Coca-Cola's appeal of the December 16, 2003 Kerala High Court ruling, which had ruled Coca-Cola's heavy extraction of water from the common groundwater resource to be 'illegal' and ordered it to seek alternative sources of water for its production. Significantly, the 2003 ruling noted that even if it was assumed that Coca-Cola could extract water safely, it should not be allowed to do so because "the underground water belongs to the general public and the 2nd respondent [Coca-Cola] has no right to claim a huge share of it and the Government have no power to allow a private party to extract such a huge quantity of ground water, which is a property, held by it in trust."
Yet there is no law to regulate groundwater extraction for private enterprise in India, thus Coca Cola could continue their plans. C.R. Bijoy, a prominent Indigenous people's rights activist commented that, "In the absence of such a law, it makes it difficult to protect natural resources from such predatory behavior by private companies." So it has been left to community members, campaign supporters and Coca Cola shareholders to fight the corporation through protest.
In Wilmington, Delaware USA, Tuesday, April 19 Close to twenty shareholders spoke on behalf of campaigns from India
at the company's Annual General Meeting
, where strong concerns over Coca-Cola's gross violations of human rights and depletion of water resources dominated. Neville Isdell, chairman and chief executive of Coca-Cola, had to end the meeting rather than hear from fifteen more shareholders who were still waiting to speak. [ Statement from Plachimada, India to Coca-Cola Shareholders Meeting ]
In order for an effect to be made on the corporate giant the International Community must hit it where it hurts; Sales. This protest needs to be made everywhere that Coca-Cola has conquered. Various government agencies as well as courts continue to rule against Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola is even banned from sale in the Parliament of India. Whilst Internationally, 12 colleges and universities have already banned Coca-Cola from their campuses in the US, UK and Italy, and many more are expected to follow.
This is a story not unlike many in which corporations play the antagonist; where the rights of everyday people, and the future of their communities are caught between profit and law, made my powers whose existence are beyond their own. Summarised aptly by C.R. Bijoy; "This issue is about much more than the extraction of water by Coca-Cola itself. The issue is about who has the fundamental decision making power over the use of natural resources, and it is about the survival of the people."
Background Information: 1
W la bira! W la grapa e ul vin! (in lingua ticinensi scriptum; auf Tessiner Dialekt geschrieben)
It is rightly said that if the sales are affected then it hurts. But how is it possible if it has become a fashion and people have made it a lifestyle issue? How to bring about the fundamental change by being responsible?"
One swami Ramdev is in a mass campaign against these MNC giants. He is to some extent is quite sucessful and have been recieving life threats.
Killer Coke’s deadly policies exposed
By Bryan G. Pfeifer
A formidable struggle against Coca-Cola’s labor and human-rights violations in Colombia and elsewhere continues building in the United States, Canada and many other countries. The Student Coali tion to Cut the Coca-Cola Contract—with over 20 organizations representing 5,000 students at the University of Michigan—dealt the latest blow to the multi-billion dollar corporation.
In a June 20 news release, the coalition announced that the university has placed Coke “on probation” until August 2006 because of the corporation’s actions in Colombia and India.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola markets four of the world’s top five soft-drink brands: Coke, Diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite. Foun ded in 1886, the company has operations in more than 200 countries. It produces nearly 400 beverage brands, including Dannon, Dasani, Minute Maid and Nestea.
Amit Srivastava, a leading member of the U of M student coalition and a member of the India Resource Center there, said: “The students at Michigan have secured a significant victory for the people of India and Colombia. Their actions have paved the way for other colleges and universities to join the growing number of campuses applying pressure on the Coca-Cola Co.” (www.IndiaResource.org)
The university’s concession came only after a massive months-long campaign at various U of M campuses. Actions included two public hearings at the university. Representatives of Sinaltrainal, the labor union at Coca-Cola plants in Colombia, participated in the hearings, along with members of the Steel Workers union and United Students Against Sweatshops. Sinaltrainal is asking supporters to boycott all Coke products.
After a 10-month investigation by a university Dispute Review Board—an advisory body created by the university under pressure from the student coalition—Coke was found guilty of violating U of M’s Vendor Code of Conduct. According to the DRB, the decision was based on both scientific proof of high pesticide levels in Coke soft drinks in India and the corporation’s repeated violations of labor laws in Colombia.
In India, Coke has been selling products laced with pesticides, including DDT—sometimes at levels as high as 30 times those allowed by United States and European Union standards.
On May 19, the Food and Drug Admi ni stration barred a shipment of Coke products made in India from entering the United States. The grounds: the products were “unsafe” and “not conforming to U.S. laws.”
At U of M, the DRB said it would further assess the issues of Coke depleting groundwater and disposing of its toxic waste as fertilizer to farmers around its plants in India.
The DRB ordered Coke to submit to a third-party independent investigation regarding its corporate practices in India and Colombia by Sept. 30. An audit is to be completed by March 31, 2006. Coke is then supposed to adhere to a corrective action plan in place by May 31, 2006.
Furthermore, the university has renewed its contract with Coke only on a conditional three-month basis, beginning in June 2005 and pending satisfactory action by the corporation.
The DRB further stated that if Coke doesn’t meet these deadlines and satisfactory progress isn’t made, “the University business relationship with Coca-Cola shall be suspended and Coca-Cola products shall not be offered at the University, which includes but is not limited to vending, food service operations, athletic events and University-catered events.”
Killer Coke’s history
In the United States, Coke has a history of discriminating against African Amer icans. In June 2000 the corporation settled a class-action lawsuit with over 1,500 Black workers. There was massive evidence of unequal pay, biased promotions, a racially hostile work environment and retaliation against workers who aired grievances, according to the book “War in Colombia: Made In USA.” (www.leftbooks.com)
In Colombia, Coke’s main Latin Amer ican bottler, Panamco, is charged with hiring right-wing paramilitaries to assassinate and terrorize union leaders, their loved ones and their communities. (www. killercoke.org)
Since 1989, at least eight union leaders from Coke’s bottling plants in Colombia have been murdered by paramilitary for ces. In the United States, the Steel Workers union is suing Coke and Pana mco under the Alien Claims Tort Act for having “contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that used extreme violence and murdered, tortured, and unlawfully detained trade union leaders.” (www.uswa.org)
More than 3,000 labor unionists have been assassinated in Colombia since 1990. In the recent period, many U.S-based corporations and the U.S. imperialist government, mostly through Plan Colombia, have worked hand-in-glove with the Colombian government and ruling class to perpetuate this terrorism.
Some 63 percent of the people of Colo mbia live in poverty—25 percent in abject misery.
But international unity and solidarity with Colombian unions is building rapidly:
* In April, the Representative Assembly of the 525,000-member New York State United Teachers union, an affiliate of the Federation of Teachers, adopted a resolution to refrain from serving or selling Coke products at its offices, events or meetings. (www.nysut.org)
* In recent months federations, labor councils, and unions across the United States have passed scores of resolutions to protest Coke’s labor and human-rights violations, banning Coke machines and pro ducts from union halls, and demanding schools remove Coke machines. The unions include various locals of the Postal Workers, California Federation of Teach ers, Communication Workers, Service Employees, Auto Workers, and Steel Workers. Many Canadian and British union locals have passed similar resolutions. (www.killercoke.org)
* Bowing to massive student pressure, Rutgers University in New Jersey did not renew Coke’s exclusive beverage contract, effective June 1, 2005. Active campaigns to ban Coke are now under way at over 30 campuses in the United States and other countries.
* An “International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable” workshop was held at the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre, Brazil in January. There, over 500 activists learned about ways to protest Killer Coke and support Colombian unionists. (www.iacenter.org)
Motisola Abdallah, an African Amer ican woman and one of the original four plaintiffs who brought the discrimination lawsuit against Coke in 1999, sums up the Killer Coke struggle: “I’m happy that the struggle against Coca-Cola is long-term and global. It proves that workers wherever they live are all in this together. A corporation like Coca-Cola isn’t just unfair to its workers in one place. Injustice runs throughout a business where profit is the driving motivation.
“Anyone fighting for justice can’t give up. Together we can bring change, real harmony, real justice.” (War in Colombia)
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