Coca-Cola Challenged in UK on Human Rights, Labour and Environmental Issues

For Immediate Release
October 12, 2004

Contact: Amit Srivastava Tel: +44 (0)7731 865 591 E: info@indiaresource.org

London (October 12, 2004): A national tour is underway in Britain to challenge Coca-Cola's abusive practices in Colombia and India. Britain is one of Coca-Cola's largest markets in the world.

A pattern has emerged as a result of Coca-Cola's bottling operations in India. Communities living around Coca-Cola bottling plants in India are facing severe water shortages and the groundwater and soil has been contaminated as a direct result of Coca-Cola's practices. Coca-Cola is also accused of distributing toxic waste to farmers and selling contaminated drinks in India.

Coca-Cola is charged with complicity in the murder, torture and intimidation of trade union members in Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. The trade union SINALTRAINAL organises workers in Coca-Cola bottling facilities in Colombia, and its members and their families have been subject to a gruesome cycle of violence - including murder, torture and kidnapping - unleashed by Colombian paramilitary forces, in complicity with Coca-Cola's Colombian bottling subsidiary.

The Coca-Cola Accountability Tour UK is visiting Bristol (Oct 6), Liverpool (Oct 7), Manchester (Oct 8), Birmingham (Oct 10), Bradford (Oct 11), Glasgow (Oct 12), and London (Oct 13-17).

"Coca-Cola is guilty of double standards," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Centre and one of the speakers on the tour representing the views of local Indian struggles against Coca-Cola. "Coca-Cola recalled it's entire bottled water product line, Dasani, at the first news that it contained contaminants in the UK. In India, Coca-Cola continues to sell drinks with high traces of pesticides, including DDT, with levels sometimes as high as 30 times those allowed by the US and EU standards. It seems that Indian lives are much more expendable for Coca-Cola than British lives," he added.

"The Indian and Colombian struggles to hold Coca-Cola accountable are part of the same struggle. In India, communities are fighting for their lives because of Coca-Cola's aggressive use of the water, and in Colombia, workers and communities are fighting for their lives because of the violence that Coca-Cola employs to get its way," said Edgar Paez, the International Affairs director of Sinaltrainal representing the Colombian struggle on the tour.

The Coca-Cola accountability tour in the UK will arrive in London with a public event at SOAS, University of London, on Wednesday, October 13 at 7 pm. The public event will be followed by a benefit concert to support the local communities in India and Colombia at Electrowerkz club in Angel. The UK tour will also be participating in events surrounding the European Social Forum in London from October 14-17.

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org and to arrange interviews, call (+44) 07731 865 591 or email info@indiaresource.org


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