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The Saker >>
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Voltaire, international edition
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Voltaire Network >>
coke workers give the REAL story
Coke workers reply
We are reluctant to engage any further with Gearóid Ó Loinsigh — the reason why will become clear. His comments on your letters page (29 January 2004) must be answered if only to do justice to the workers we represent.
It is simply untrue to assert as he does that no offer of solidarity was offered to Colombian trade unionists at the meeting we attended with Eduardo Luis, the Colombian Coca-Cola worker. Why does Ó Loinsigh persist in denying this? The answer is simple: if one does not support a call or an organised boycott, any other form of solidarity is rejected. This is not the behaviour of a solidarity activist; it is the behaviour of a political sectarian.
Ó Loinsigh complains of "body language" and that the meeting translator was "interrupted whilst translating" and "interrupted again when making comments of his own". He fails to mention that both he and the translator were one and the same person.
Here lies the problem. Our attempts to communicate with Eduardo Luis were totally dependent on Mr Ó Loinsigh, whose apparent inability to state or report facts is matched only by his ability to separate himself from himself. The only hostility at the meeting emanated from another Ó Loinsigh initiative, the unexpected presence at the meeting of UCD student officers who had engaged in hostile behaviour towards Coca-Cola shop stewards.
Ó Loinsigh's partisan disregard for the facts leads us to question his 'translations'.
In future we will bring our own translator and, while we have no problem meeting with LASC, we will not be having any more meetings with Mr Ó Loinsigh. We hereby withdraw the longstanding, but predictably ignored, invitation to Mr Ó Loinsigh to discuss repression against Colombian trade unionists. He has never, at any stage, seen fit to consider the views of Irish bottling plant workers.
The IUF, SIPTU and the ICTU have over the past few months met with, questioned Coca-Cola corporate management, and discussed the conditions at bottling plants in Colombia. The meetings have taken place in the US and Ireland.
As Irish bottling plant workers, we have been to the forefront of raising issues of trade union organisation, working conditions, justice and human rights and will continue to work with the International Union of Foodworkers in building global solidarity action and union organisation in the Coca-Cola system.
Paddy Cahill, Branch Chairperson and Senior Shop Steward
Tommy Grant, Senior Shop Steward Production
Gerry Mahony, Senior Shop Steward Production.