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Anti coke boycott Union to testify against its own members

category international | consumer issues | news report author Friday October 29, 2004 14:55author by Lasc - Lasc Report this post to the editors

The IUF not only attacks Sinaltrainal but even its own affiliates

The IUF which has been to the forefront in attacking Sinaltrainal and the boycott is to testify on behalf of Del Monte in Guatemala against its own affiliates.

IUF's Oswald: Allegiance to Whom?

It is fair to ask why Ron Oswald, the IUF's general secretary, is so vociferously opposed to the efforts of students and workers who have rallied around SINALTRAINAL and the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. Mr. Oswald's inclination to support "cooperative discussions" with companies that commit human rights and labor rights abuses, rather than confronting them with demands that they change their behavior, is nothing new.

For example, Mr. Oswald sharply criticized the International Labor Rights Fund's lawsuit against the U.S. Customs Service for breaking American trade laws by allowing the importation of African cocoa picked by child slaves. Mr. Oswald's position is that the ILRF , and more importantly, the child slaves it is fighting for , should have waited for the IUF and other parties to negotiate a deal with the cocoa companies before taking any affirmative steps to protect the children. While the IUF gets bogged down in protracted discussions with the companies, these children continue to suffer the most extreme forms of exploitation.

Similarly, Mr. Oswald is actually scheduled to be a witness for Fresh Del Monte Produce in the ILRF's lawsuit against that company, which in 1998 not only fired 900 workers in Guatemalan banana plantations, but organized 200 heavily-armed men to assault them. Mr. Oswald has agreed to testify that he signed an agreement with the company (albeit without the workers' consent) which waived the workers' right to bring this lawsuit. What makes this situation even more incredible is that the banana workers are represented by a union affiliated with Ron Oswald's own IUF.

Unlike Ron Oswald, who seems to believe that multinational corporations will stop participating in human rights and labor abuses if only they are approached in the proper spirit of moral uplift, we believe that workers, students and other people of goodwill have to challenge these companies. It is this difference in beliefs and approaches that puts us at odds with Ron Oswald.

If we want The Coca-Cola Co. to take its responsibilities as a corporate citizen seriously and to protect the safety and rights of workers in Colombia, we must raise the stakes for Coca-Cola in ways that will make its top policymakers realize that they have a lot more to lose than to gain if they ignore us. We strongly support initiatives to cut out important Coke markets. We do not believe that high schools, colleges, universities, government facilities, unions and other institutions should lend their names and prestige nor serve as a marketplace to a company which has shown such anti-social, immoral and criminal conduct. Since Coke is so massively involved in lawbreaking and human rights violations in Colombia and elsewhere, it follows that conscientious consumers will find Coke products "unthinkable" and "undrinkable."

In any struggle between workers and an employer, both sides as well as "innocent bystanders" may be harmed. When transportation workers, autoworkers, steelworkers or government workers strike, there are always adverse impacts on other workers and large segments of the public. There's no escaping the fact that union solidarity may require sacrifice.

SINALTRAINAL is a courageous, independent union that will not be intimidated, even by the most dominant brand in history. It has staked its future on the solidarity of its brothers and sisters around the world. Unfortunately, the IUF chooses to align itself with the position of SINTRAINAGRO, a "company union" with a pro-management bias if ever there was one. With a clear understanding of the IUF's regrettable and mistaken stand, SINALTRAINAL and the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke ask you: Which side are you on?

Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
Ray Rogers, Director
stopkillercoke@aol.com

author by trade unionistpublication date Mon Nov 01, 2004 11:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The silence from those who have defended the IUF is deafening.

 
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