Strong labor unions are critical to improve wages, working
conditions and human rights for all workers and for democracies to
flourish. For workers in Colombia and Guatemala, a strong union can
also mean the difference between life and death.
The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke originated to stop the gruesome
cycle of violence against union leaders and organizers in Colombia
in efforts to crush their union, SINALTRAINAL.
Since then, violence,
abuse and exploitation leveled against Coke workers and communities
have been uncovered in other countries as well, notably China, El
Salvador, Guatemala, India, Mexico and Turkey.
In Colombia, the importance of winning the struggle against Coke was
best summed up by SINALTRAINAL Vice President Juan Carlos Galvis
when he said:
"If we lose this fight against Coke,
First we will lose our union,
Next we will lose our jobs,
And then we will all lose our lives!"
The Coca-Cola Case
a Documentary Film
German Gutiérrez and Carmen Garcia
Lawsuits were filed in the United States
in 2001 and 2006 by the United Steelworkers of America and the
International Labor Rights Fund on behalf of SINALTRAINAL, several
of its members who were falsely imprisoned and the survivors of
Isidro Gil and Adolfo de Jesus Munera, two of its murdered officers.
The lawsuits charged Coca-Cola bottlers,
"contracted with or
otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized
extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or
otherwise silenced trade union leaders."
The lawsuits and campaign
were developed to force Coca-Cola to once and for all end further
bloodshed, compensate victims and provide safe working conditions.
The Campaign called for the main judge, Joseph E. Martinez, who
presided over the original lawsuits against The Coca-Cola Co. and
its Colombian bottlers in Federal District Court in Miami, Florida,
to recuse himself because of serious conflicts of interest and
statements he made about the case. (Read "Talking Points" 3 on
Synopsis of "The Coca-Cola Case"
Coca-Cola, which is virulently anti-union, claims that any
allegations that its bottlers in Colombia are involved in the
systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture, and murder of union
leaders are false.
Yet the company has fought every effort to have
an independent investigation into these allegations while at the
same time has misled the public and its own shareholders with a long
string of lies and bogus investigations. (Read "Talking Points" 4 on
Read more about
Coca-Cola's crimes in Colombia.
On February 25, 2010, another
human rights abuse lawsuit against
Coca-Cola was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York
and later moved to federal district court.
"This case involves a
campaign of violence - including rape, murder, and attempted murder
- against trade unionists and their families at the behest of the
management of Coca-Cola bottling and processing plants in
It should be noted what happened in the '70s and '80s in Guatemala
City: According to "Soft Drink, Hard Labor" published by the Latin
America Bureau (UK) in 1987,
"For nine years the 450 workers at the
Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City fought a battle for their
jobs, their trade union and their lives. Three times they occupied
the plant - on the last occasion for 13 months. Three General
Secretaries of their union were murdered and five other workers
killed. Four more were kidnapped and have disappeared. Against all
the odds they survived."
Read more about
Coca-Cola's crimes in Guatemala.
In Turkey, in 2005, 105 workers at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in
Istanbul joined a union and were terminated.
They organized a
lengthy sit-down strike in front of the main offices of Coca-Cola in
Turkey. After several weeks of protesting, Coca-Cola workers entered
the building to demand their reinstatement. While leaders of the
workers were meeting with senior management for the company, the
company ordered Turkish riot police to attack the workers who were
by all accounts peacefully assembled, many with their spouses and
Nearly two hundred of them were beaten badly and many
required hospitalization. Lawsuits are pending.
Read more about
Coca-Cola's crimes in Turkey.
In China, based on undercover investigations at several Coke plants,
Chinese press reported in December 2008 that Coke employees are,
"involved in the most dangerous, intense and tiresome labor, work
the longest hours, but receive the lowest wages and face arrears and
even cutbacks in their pay."
One investigator claimed that Coke
violated Chinese labor laws and reported that workers,
12 hours per day for an entire month without a single day off."
In a report, "Violence in Coca-Cola's Labor Subcontracting System in
China," it was revealed:
"On the 12 August 2009, a labor dispatch company hired by
Coca-Cola's designated Hangzhou-based bottling plant was discovered
to have threatened two university student-workers who asked for
their own and their two other fellow workers' back pay upon their
Xiao Liang, 24, was beaten up by two managers at the
labor dispatch company's office, resulting in serious wounds over
his left eye, left hand, and right ear. Xiao Xu sent Xiao Liang to
the Dongfang Hospital immediately after police arrived on the scene.
Xiao Liang was later diagnosed with a ruptured eardrum, resulting in
compromised hearing capacity..."
Two years earlier, BBC News (5/21/07) reported that Coca-Cola has
been accused of benefiting from prison labor in China.
Read more about
Coca-Cola's crimes in China.
Mexico, the country with the highest per capita consumption of
Coca-Cola, is a huge profit center for Coke to the detriment of the
health of millions of children and adults who suffer an inordinate
rate of obesity, diabetes and other serious maladies.
Dr. Ann Lopez,
author and environmental science Professor, Ph.D. at San Jose City
College in California, and Director of the
Center for Farmworker
"The people of west central Mexico are easy corporate prey for
predator Coke. You can't stand anywhere in some of the rural towns
and not see a Coke ad. I've seen what Coke is doing in the west
central Mexico countryside where I do research: pushing their
addictive products on peasant populations who can ill afford them
and in which one in 10 may have undiagnosed diabetes."
To control the soft drinks market in Mexico, Coca-Cola has shown
repeatedly it will break the law.
Angel Alvarado Agüero case,
currently in the Mexican courts, describes how this former marketing
executive of Coca-Cola was unjustifiably dismissed when he refused
to carry out illegal monopolistic marketing practices as directed by
the Company. This case also highlights how The Coca-Cola Co. is
cheating Mexican workers out of hundreds of millions of dollars in
profit sharing and other benefits and shortchanging the Mexican
government out of millions of dollars in tax revenues.
Investigative reporter Beverly Bell pointed out that,
12 million people do not have access to potable water in Mexico."
She explains how then-Mexican President
Vicente Fox, who prior to
his election in 2000 was president of Coca-Cola in Mexico and Latin
"...with help from the World Bank - has successfully pursued
water privatization, as well as a massive land privatization
program, that allowed companies free access to all the resources on
the land, including water."
Bell wrote in 2006,
"Since 2000 [while Fox was president], Coca-Cola
has negotiated 27 water concessions from the Mexican government.
Nineteen of the concessions are for the extraction of water from
aquifers and from 15 different rivers, some of which belong to
indigenous peoples. Eight concessions are for the right of Coke to
dump its industrial waste into public waters."
Read more about
Coca-Cola's crimes in Mexico.
In addition to abuse of workers, Coke has been involved in the
exploitation of children by benefiting from hazardous child labor in
sugar cane fields in El Salvador.
This was first documented by Human
Rights Watch in 2004 and in footage taken in 2007 for a
nationally-televised British documentary and highlighted in Mark
Thomas's book "Belching Out the Devil
- Global Adventures with
Coca-Cola," published in 2009 in the U.S.
Representatives of the International Labor Organization interviewed
company representatives at Colombian Coca-Cola bottling plants in
2008 to ascertain whether they exercised any control of suppliers of
raw materials (such as sugar) to ensure that they did not use child
The manager at the Coke plant in Cali said that their
suppliers should not use child labor, but added,
"that the enterprise
[Coca-Cola] did not yet exercise oversight over this issue."
Read more about
Coca Cola's crimes in El Salvador.
Of the 200 countries where Coca-Cola is sold, India reportedly has
the fastest-growing market, but the adverse environmental impacts of
its operations there have subjected The Coca-Cola Co. and its local
bottlers to a firestorm of criticism and protest.
There has been a
growing outcry against Coca-Cola's production practices throughout
India, which are draining out vast amounts of public groundwater and
turning farming communities into virtual deserts. Suicide rates
among Indian farmers whose livelihoods are being destroyed are
growing at an alarming rate. Every day for years there has been some
form of protest, from large demonstrations to small vigils, against
Coca-Cola's abuses in India.
One target of protest has been the Coca-Cola bottling plant in
Plachimada, Kerala, which has remained shut down since March 2004 as
a result of the community-led campaign in Plachimada challenging
Coca-Cola's abuse of water resources.
International Environmental Law Research Centre issued a report
in 2007 that stated, in part,
"The deterioration of groundwater in
quality and quantity and the consequential public health problems
and the destruction of the agricultural economy are the main
problems identified in Plachimada. The activity of The Coca Cola
Company has caused or contributed a great deal to these
The availability of good quality water for drinking
purposes and agriculture has been affected dangerously due to the
activity of the Company. Apart from that, the Company had also
polluted the agricultural lands by depositing the hazardous wastes.
All these points to the gross violation of the basic human rights,
that is, the right to life, right to livelihood and the violation of
the pollution control laws."
In 2009, the government of Kerala set up the
High Power Committee to
Assess the Extent of Damages Caused by the
Coca-Cola Plant at Plachimada, India, which,
"recommended that Coca-Cola be held liable
for Indian Rupees 216 crore (US$ 48 million) for damages caused as a
result of the company's bottling operations in Plachimada."
Read more about
Coca-Cola's crimes in India.
The human rights abuses discussed above are but one only aspect of Coke's
But if you study
this website, you will find
up-to-date news, reports and other information that shows the world
of Coca-Cola is a world full of lies, deception, immorality,
corruption, and widespread labor, human rights and environmental
abuses, and that Coke has inflicted great hardship and despair upon
many people and communities throughout the world.
When people see Coca-Cola ads, they should think of crimes and
misconduct on a worldwide scale so unthinkable that all of Coke's
products become undrinkable!
We would appreciate any
additional information regarding Coca-Cola abuses that we can use to
further document Coke's crimes throughout the world.
We can be contacted at
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