Michigan University Suspends Ties with Coke
NEW YORK: In a major blow to Coca-Cola, a prestigious US university
has suspended its business relationships with the soft-drink giant
for violation of environmental practices in India and Colombia.
The decision of the Michigan University has been welcomed by the green
brigade, which had launched a tirade against Coca-Cola in the recent
past. In a letter dated December 29, 2005, the university said the
soft-drink giant had failed to agree to a protocol for an investigation
into serious environmental violation issues in India and Colombia.
The university has now decided to “temporarily suspend the University’s
purchasing of Coca-Cola products beginning January 1, 2006,” the letter
said. The university letter, a copy of which was made available to
this website's newspaper , was jointly signed by Peggy Norgren, Associate
Vice President for Finance and Timothy P. Slottow, Executive Vice
President and CFO of the Michigan University.
With this Michigan University has become the third American university
after Rutgers University and New York University to suspend its business
ties with Coca-Cola for almost similar reasons. The university would
resume procurement of Coca-Cola products, the letter said, only if
the company agrees on the process of a third-party review of environmental
concerns in India and Colombia.
The University letter reminded Coca-Cola had agreed in principle to
such verification by December 31, but it has not been able to keep
up its promise.
“We welcome the move by the University of Michigan to cease doing
business with a company that engages in flagrant human rights and
environmental violations. This will send strong message to Coca-Cola
that it must clean up its act,” said Amit Srivastava of India Resource
Centre, an international campaigning organisation, which worked closely
with student organisations at the University of Michigan to make the
case against Coca-Cola.
“The campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable is far from over, and
we will continue to fight to ensure that the University of Michigan
administration is moving in the right direction, and putting Coca-Cola
on notice that this suspension can lead to expulsion if they fail
to act in good faith,” said Clara Hardie, a key student leader at
the University of Michigan.
In response to student concerns over Coca-Cola’s alleged abuses in
India and Colombia, University of Michigan earlier had convened Dispute
Review Board, an advisory body comprising of students, faculty and
administrators to look into the issues in India and Colombia.
After deliberating for about 10 months, the board recommended in June
2005 that Coca-Cola be placed on probation. It also laid out a series
of benchmarks the company would have to meet in order to show it was
acting in good faith to solve the problems in India and Colombia,
including agreeing to an independent, third party investigation.
The soft-drink giant is the target of numerous community-led campaigns
in India, accusing the company of creating severe water shortages
and pollution. One of Coca-Cola’s largest bottling plants in India
remains shut down since March 2004 in Plachimada because local community
refuses to allow it to operate, citing plant for creating water shortages
and pollution in the area, leading to hardship for the community.
FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. India Resource Center is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.