OUSU condemns Coke and urges NUS boycott

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OUSU Council has passed
a motion condemning Coca Cola and resolv­ing to cease commercial relations and
all publicity with the company. It also resolves to lobby the NUS to cease its
contracts with Coca Cola.The
motion, proposed by OUSU President Emma Norris and seconded by Tom Dale, makes
a number of criticisms of Coca Cola’s practices. OUSU policy already states
that the company is "engaged in stealing and polluting farmers’ water
across India,
causing eco­nomic and ecological devastation to thousands of the poorest people
in the world."Allegations
concerning Coca Cola’s conduct in Colombia are also noted in the
motion. The Colombia Solidarity Campaign claims that nine Coca Cola employees
have been killed and many mistreated as a result of a “labour policy based on
terror [which] grants Coca Cola enormous profit increases.”NUS
Services Limited (NUSSL), the commercial wing of the NUS, holds four
multimillion pound contracts with Coca Cola. They provide over five million
litres of Coca Cola produced drinks to student union outlets around the UK. The OUSU
motion resolves to “send a representative to the 2006 NUSSL AGM, and mandate
them to support a complete boycott of the Coca Cola Corporation.” At the 2005
NUSSL AGM a motion proposing to cease some of the contracts was heavily
defeated.In
response to the defeat an emer­gency motion was brought to the NUS conference
in April, resolving to investigate the allegations against Coca Cola. If any
doubts about the company’s practices are found then the NUS “must” use its 25%
share­holding in NUSSL to recommend that contracts with Coca Cola are cut. A
spokeswoman for Coca Cola Great Britain said that the claims were unfounded.In
an article in The Guardian, she said, “We are listening to people’s concerns
and are aware of the mo­tion at the NUS conference. Whilst it is important that
people have the opportunity to discuss these sorts of issues, the specific
allegations aren’t true.”In
addition to lobbying the NUS, the successful OUSU mo­tion resolves “to refuse
publicity to Coca Cola, in our publications, at our events, and in our
building.” OUSU must now refuse any offers of direct commercial relations with
Coca Cola.Oxford students may not have heard the last of the debate on Coca Cola, as the OUSU motion also proposes “to
carry a quarter page ad in The Oxford Student newspaper on at least two
occasions before the end of TT06, supporting the boy­cott call and carrying
salient facts about Coca Cola with appropriate web links.”In
the past year the Coca Cola debate has been an issue in JCRs across the
University. Last term saw the complete ban of Coca Cola products from certain
JCR bars and common rooms, including Wadham, Balliol and St Hilda’s.Alice
Ramsay, Ecology Officer for St Hilda’s JCR, who proposed the ban motion there,
said, “If OUSU is backing the NUS campaign they are showing solidarity with the
colleges who have taken a stance against corporate irresponsibility.” Alternative
cola products sug­gested include Qibla Cola, which donates 10% of its profits
to char­ity and only costs an additional 0.7p. Qibla Cola has since been
withdrawn from bars and common rooms, having gone into receiver­ship last
month.Tom
Dale, who seconded the OUSU motion said “We can’t wait for capitalism to become
responsi­ble: we’re just going to have to get together to force it to do what
we want. The Coca Cola boycott is just one of a number of ways to achieve
this.ARCHIVE: 2nd week MT 2005

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