Coca-Cola's dominance of the global soft drinks market has come at huge cost to local communities, the environment and its own workforce, according to a new report to be published on Monday (20 March 2006) by campaigns group War on Want. The new evidence appears in the week that the Coca-Cola sponsored international World Cup tour comes to London (details below).
Coca-Cola: The Alternative Report is the first full exposé of the company's activities worldwide, and forms part of War on Want's ongoing campaign for directors to be made liable for corporate wrongdoing. The report brings together new research and testimony to show how Coca-Cola has:
- exhausted community water reserves in India by drilling deep into underground reservoirs, drying up local wells and leaving farmers unable to irrigate their crops;
- contaminated local ecosystems in El Salvador and India through waste effluents discharged from its plants;
- been implicated in human rights abuses in Colombia, including the death and disappearances of trade union activists at Coca-Cola bottling plants;
- adopted union-busting tactics in a wide range of other countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, Russia, Peru, Chile, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Louise Richards, Chief Executive of War on Want, said: "Coca-Cola promotes a sporty image of itself through sponsorship of events such as the World Cup, but the company is not playing fair with its workers and with local communities around the world. Coca-Cola?s exploitation of community water resources and its abuse of workers' rights have marked it out as an irresponsible corporation. It's time the directors of such companies were held to account for their actions."
The sheen was taken off Coca-Cola's image when demonstrators obstructed the torch relay to the winter Olympics in February in protest at Coca-Cola sponsorship. In the UK, the National Union of Students will vote on 28-30 March on ending Coca-Cola's £15 million contract with NUS Services Limited because of concerns about the company's human rights and environmental record overseas.