McMaster Campus Choice
The NO side of the Coca-Cola Referendum Debate
Reasons to Vote No to an Exclusive Contract with Coca Cola (the referendum applies specifically to the MSU (Union Market and 1280)):
Human Rights and the Environment: Coca-Cola is an unethical company. We do not want student benefits to come from the exploitation of workers and the environment in other parts of the world. Some examples include but are not limited to:
1. El Salvador: Coca-Cola plant has polluted the ground water and that child labour has decreased in El Salvador on Sugarcane plantations by 70%(1).
2. India: Coca-Cola has depleted and polluted ground water resources in drought prone communities. Local farmers and residents depend on this water supply for their livelihood (1) (2).
3. Colombia: Coca-Cola has been linked to the murder of trade unionists in Colombia at Coca-Cola bottling plants (3).
The Right to a Choice: In the scope of the referendum, it is not within our power to ban Coca-Cola. We do not seek to ban Coca-Cola from campus but instead are advocating for the availability of more alternatives to Coca-Cola. We respect students' ability to think for themselves and to make their own choices about whether or not to consume Coca-Cola. During this referendum, we are fighting for the ability to make a choice to purchase alternatives to Coca-Cola from MSU services – whether it be from a personal, anti-monopoly, or a humanitarian perspective.
Finances: According to many sources in the MSU including Vishal Tiwari it has been confirmed that an exclusive contract with Coca-Cola will not reap the same benefits as before. Coca-Cola hasn’t even offered us an exclusive contract (John McGowan, MSU Manager).
Important Counterpoint to YES side: In our discussion with John McGowan (the MSU Manager), we found out that our shelves are still exclusive to Coca-Cola until the end of this academic year. Hence the argument “93 per cent of cold beverages on campus remain Coca Cola products” is misleading because our shelves are still exclusive to Coca-Cola - except for products such as milk, Jones Soda, and Calypso which are not direct competitors of Coke. There hasn't been the opportunity to bring in competing alternatives.
Brief Counterarguments to Yes Side’s Claims (for more details see http://mac-choice.blogspot.com/
1. Child labour articles: the only evidence the YES side gives shows that Coca-Cola has said they are going to address child labour (whether they have done so is not verified by a non-Coca Cola source) and that child labour has decreased in El Salvador by 70% (not necessarily related to Coca-Cola’s sugar supplier).
2. The Court case: In regards to the court case we do not believe that the process has been fair or brought real justice.
For more information about the lawsuit please watch The Coca Cola Case Tues, Feb 2 in HSC 1A6 7-9 PM. This film was co-produced by the reputable National Film Board of Canada
3. The ILO report does not investigate the murders of the Coca-Cola bottling plant trade unionists in Colombia. The report is actually quite critical of Coca-Cola’s practice of outsourcing workers and discouragement of trade unionism (Sorger).
4. Killercoke: We are not the same group of students from the 2005 Referendum. Many of us were not McMaster students during the previous referendum. Our arguments come from personal testimony from Mark Thomas (human rights activist who visited Colombia, India and El Salvador first hand to investigate these issues), George Sorger (one of the founders of Amnesty Internation Canada Group 1), and Romero Camilo is a member of SINALTRAINAL, one of the unions who represent the workers at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia.
(1) Atkinson, Geoff and Sarah Macdonald dir. “Dispatches”: Mark Thomas on Coca-Cola. Channel 4 News, 2007.
(2) India Resource Center. "Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable ". 2009. India Resource Centre Website. 23 Jan. 2010. <HTTP: indiaresource.org campaigns coke index.html>.
(3) Camilo, Romero***. "Update on the latest Coca-Cola Campaign" McMaster University, Hamilton. April 01 2009. Lecture.
***Romero Camilo is a member of SINALTRAINAL, one of the unions who represent the workers at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia.