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Coca-Cola Abuses Continue to Spread

Newsletter | March 6, 2014

Contents

  1. Protests in Spain and Latin America Damage the Coca-Cola Brand
  2. GM Borrows a Page from Coke's Playbook in Colombia
  3. Campaign Director Ray Rogers to Receive 2014 International WHITE DOVE Award
  4. Buying Respectability: Coca-Cola & 'Corporate Social Responsibility' Fraud

1. "Protests in Spain and Latin America Damage the Coca-Cola Brand" by Nathalie Pédestarres, la marea [Spain], February 28, 2014

Read the original In Spanish: http://www.lamarea.com/2014/02/28/las-protestas-manchan-la-marca-coca-cola/#comments

Edited excerpts from a a Google translation from la marea in Spain

"One of the slogans of Coca-Cola says: "Open Happiness". The multinational company that manufactures the world's most famous soft drink has even created the Coca-Cola Happiness Institute, which held its second annual conference in Madrid two years ago. However, for employees of the bottling plants of Fuenlabrada, Palma de Mallorca, Alicante and Asturias, the spark of life became a bitter firecracker on 22 January when Coca-Cola Iberian Partners (the only bottler on the entire Ibérica peninsula, the Spanish capital, but tightly controlled by the multinational) announced, against all expectations, the closure of four plants that would affect 1,253 workers -750 layoffs and many relocations, not counting all indirect jobs in ancillary businesses...

"The decision of a company with benefits of using a collective dismissal has caused a major public and media reaction, including calls for a boycott of products of Coca-Cola brand. And this is what the American giant Atlanta-based fears most. The multinational spends huge amounts of money to cultivate the image of a company dedicated to charitable campaigns in the communities where it sells its drinks. In many cases, the money is to cover up scandals involving accusations of the company acting against social and labor rights and the environment.

"The lack of transparency has fostered a climate of insecurity and tension between workers and speculation about the real reasons for the closure of the bottling plants... "Since 2003, Ray Rogers has been the bane of Coca-Cola. The activist of 47 years has made his life a fierce and courageous struggle in defense of environmental and social causes, and against the abuses of large corporations. His Campaign to Stop KillerCoke is active in a multitude of countries: "The dreadful cycle of violence and cooperation of the [multinational] with paramilitary groups, particularly in Colombia to intimidate, kidnap, torture and murder of union leaders and their families in order to silence their claims," is recounted in http://www.killercoke.org. This website provides a wealth of data, newspaper articles, reference books, videos and reports of large NGO allegations of abuse that the multinational has committed, especially in countries where legislation on labor and environmental protection is virtually nonexistent. It is a long list of grievances: looting of water resources in India and Mexico, child labor in Latin America, racial discrimination in the United States, pollution and accidents in Kenya, Tanzania and China, labor exploitation in Pakistan...

"These cases include allegations of Coca-Cola collaboration with paramilitary groups to get rid of pesky union leaders in Colombia and Guatemala. This has been reflected in the book "Soft Drink, Hard Labour", written by Mike Gatehouse and Miguel Angel Reyes, and published in 1987 by the NGO Latin America Bureau in London, and in the documentary "The Coca- Cola Case", produced by Germán Gutiérrez and Carmen Garcia in 2009. The documentary follows two U.S. labor lawyers, Dan Kovalik and Terry Collinsworth, in their efforts to prove the liability of the company in eight consecutive murders of Sinaltrainal union leaders in Colombia... Rogers...does not hesitate to show up at meetings of shareholders of Coca-Cola to challenge Coca-Cola CEO/Chair Muhtar Kent. Faced with uncomfortable questions, Mr. Kent responds invariably with demagogic rants, as can be seen in numerous videos on YouTube..."

2. GM Borrows a Page from Coke's Playbook in Colombia
Illegal Firings, Repression, and Threats against the Injured Workers of ASOTRECOL
Report from Colombia, February 27, 2014, by Kevin Young, ASOTRECOL Solidarity Network

Colombia, February 27, 2014: Starting in 2008 the General Motors Chevrolet assembly plant in Colombia, GM Colmotores, fired over 200 workers who had suffered workplace injuries, leaving them without workers' compensation, medical coverage, or jobs to support their families. The workers have pursued all the standard legal channels for redress, but GM has used its influence to prevent justice. The company has demonstrated, in the words of injured welder Rafael Jiménez, a magical power "to make legal things that are illegal" by bribing Colombian officials. GM may be taking a page from Coca-Cola's playbook. In fact, former Coke CEO Neville Isdell sits on GM's Board of Directors.

ASOTRECOL member Carlos Trujillo

In protest, 68 of the injured workers formed the Association of Injured Workers and Ex- Workers of GM Colmotores (ASOTRECOL). In August 2011 they set up a tent encampment outside the U.S. embassy in Bogotá, and eight of these workers have been there ever since — now over 930 days. They are demanding that their injuries be reclassified as occupational, that the company rehire them for jobs that they are physically able to perform, and that it provide a disability pension for those who are completely unable to work. They have also been open to the option of a monetary settlement if GM refuses to rehire them.

A 22-day hunger strike by ASOTRECOL in August 2012 finally compelled General Motors to negotiate. However, during negotiations the company offered the workers a pittance in compensation--about $31,000 each--that wouldn't even have covered their medical costs, much less allow them to provide a decent future for their families. GM continues to reject requests for new negotiations and reasonable workers' compensation as required by Colombian law.

In the wake of the bad publicity generated by ASOTRECOL, GM did make belated safety improvements, dismiss supervisory and medical department personnel, and respect new claims filed by injured workers. But the workers who blew the whistle on GM remain disabled and unemployed, their families poverty-stricken and facing the constant threat of eviction from their homes.

ASOTRECOL member Jorge Parra

Four ASOTRECOL members initiated a new hunger strike, two of them with their lips sewn shut on February 11, 2014--the anniversary of the date in 1937 when GM was forced to recognize the United Auto Workers union. This hunger strike has achieved substantial visibility, with the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Colombia (CUT) and several other Colombian unions delivering material support for the workers' families.

This visibility has come at a price, however. Threats and harassment against the workers, from both anonymous sources and the Colombian police, have increased since the hunger strike began on February 11. Police visited the workers' tents that same week and demanded the home addresses of the workers. Just a few days later, on Sunday, February 16, 2014, the pick-up truck belonging to ASOTRECOL President Jorge Parra was stolen from outside his home, along with a camera and laptop computer containing sensitive personal information that has now put the workers' families at greater risk. The pick-up truck was in very poor condition, leading the workers to conclude that the theft was politically motivated.

ASOTRECOL operates in a land where workers are considered disposable and independent union activity is viciously repressed in the name of corporate profits. Yet they continue their struggle, for they see no other option. In Jorge Parra's words, "We prefer the dignified death of struggle to the humiliation and submission of living on our knees."

ASOTRECOL member Manuel Ospina

The ASOTRECOL workers and their families are in desperate need of solidarity. The ASOTRECOL Solidarity Network in the United States has set up an online fundraising mechanism to help the workers and their families cover the costs of food, shelter, and medical care so that they can continue their struggle for justice. You can visit www.asotrecol.org to donate with a debit or credit card. You can do a one-time donation, or--better yet--a recurring automatic monthly donation. Recently an anonymous donor offered to double all monthly recurring donations made on the website, up to $500 per month — so, for example, if you donate $10 a month, it automatically becomes $20!

On www.asotrecol.org you will also find a link to a 55- minute documentary on ASOTRECOL with English subtitles (embedded below). It was produced by the independent filmmakers of VENISPA, visit them at www.venispa.com to see their other documentaries. If you are interested in organizing a screening of the ASOTRECOL film in your area or would like to help with the solidarity campaign in other ways, contact the ASOTRECOL Solidarity Network at asotrecol@gmail.com.

Statement of Support from Corporate Campaign, Inc./Campaign to Stop Killer Coke

ASOTRECOL: Epitome of Will & Courage Deserves Everyone's Support

NEW YORK, NY. — Corporate Campaign, Inc. and The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke supports the ASOTRECOL leaders and members in their struggle for justice against the draconian policies and reprehensible practices directed against them by United States-based transnational General Motors Company.

l to r: ASOTRECOL President Jorge Parra, Manuel Ospina, Carlos Trujillo, Pedro Rincón

The example set by men like Jorge Parra, Manuel Ospina, Carlos Trujillo and Rafael Jiménez in standing up against General Motors is showing the kind of strength, courage and determination exhibited by union leaders of SINALTRAINAL who are fighting for justice for Coca-Cola workers in Colombia despite suffering a long history of assassinations, constant death threats and other violence against them and members of their families because of their union activities.

When Neville Isdell, Chair & CEO of The Coca-Cola Company from 2004-2009, became a member of General Motors board in 2008, he brought to the board a personal background full of lies, deception, unbridled greed and complicity in labor and human rights abuses on a global scale.

Everyone who believes workers deserve dignity and respect and protection from the likes of Neville Isdell and abusive companies like General Motors and The Coca-Cola Company should support ASOTRECOL.

Ray Rogers
Director
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
www.KillerCoke.org
info@KillerCoke.org
Corporate Campaign, Inc.
www.CorporateCampaign.org
info@CorporateCampaign.org

3. Campaign Director Ray Rogers to Receive 2014 International WHITE DOVE Award by ROCLA [Rochester Committee on Latin America] Update on the Americas February 2014

Read ROCLA Newsletter in .PDF

4. Buying Respectability: Coca-Cola & 'Corporate Social Responsibility' Fraud

Are The Coca-Cola Company and Corporate Social Responsibility an oxymoron? Watch for our new report soon to be released, entitled: "Buying Respectability: Coca-Cola & 'Corporate Social Responsibility' Fraud"

After reading this report, you decide!