Manchester Students Ban Coca-Cola
Students at Manchester University have banned Coca-Cola in protest
at the American company's alleged abuses of human rights and the environment.
A motion banning the company's fizzy drinks from the student union's
shops and bars because of its behaviour in Colombia, Turkey and India
won overwhelming support at a meeting this week.
The decision, approved by 400 votes to about 20, means the 36,000
undergraduate and postgraduates at one of Britain's biggest universities
will now drink Virgin or another cola rather than the world's number
one soft drink.
The company is accused of a range of unacceptable actions in Third
World countries, including siphoning water from rivers in India for
its factories, leaving farmers without crucial irrigation supplies.
The students' ban gives support to a growing campaign to eject Coke
from campuses across the UK which is being co-ordinated by an internet
group called ukstudentsagainstcoke.
Activists at Oxford, Edinburgh, Bristol, Bradford, Middlesex and the
School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) have railed against
Coca-Cola in motions presented to their unions.
Students are now expected to call for the National Union of Students
to instruct its commercial arm NUS Services to end its supply contract
with Coke at its national conference later this month. A similar motion
was defeated at an NUS conference recently.
In the motion, the Manchester student union listed a series of allegations
made against the company that have been publicised by campaigners,
all relating to alleged malpractice in developing countries.
Following its approval on Wednesday, Rob Owen, general secretary of
Manchester student union and a member of George Galloway's Respect
coalition, said: "The significance of this is that students buy Coke
through NUS Supplies and it's one of Coke's biggest customers.
"There's a ban in places like Leeds, SOAS and Sussex, and there's
growing pressure to remove Coke at a national level. If that happened,
it would be a massive blow to the company not only in public relations
terms, but financially."
Manchester's student union - one of the biggest in Europe - will now
no longer order Coke for its two shops and five bars and intends to
lobby Manchester University to introduce the ban in its bars and restaurants.
Coca-Cola rejects claims it has behaved badly in its global operations.
The company is making strong profits in Britain despite obesity fears
over the sugar content of its drinks.
Coca-Cola was contacted yesterday but was unavailable for comment.
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