Coca Cola is facing legal action after a Nigerian lawyer plans to file a lawsuit to fight the corporation’s poor environmental record. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, claiming to act on behalf of 4000 local people, is accusing the world’s biggest soft drinks company of pumping untreated waste into a lagoon in the port area of Apapa. Although Coca Cola deny the charges, it is by no means the first time the multinational has been at the centre of environmental and humanitarian abuse allegations in developing countries.
The corporation stands accused of exhausting groundwater supplies in El Salvador and of union-busting in Pakistan, Nicaragua and Guatemala. In Colombia they deny turning a blind eye to labour abuses, and in Turkey allegations of intimidation and the beating of union activists abound. In addition, a former Coca Cola business partner has claimed the company has illegitimate dealings with Uzbekistan’s authoritarian government.
While the multinational denies all allegations, there is a growing anger which seems to have caused Coca Cola to assess its ethics. Not before time, it has signed up to a voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, commissioned a study of its production in India, and has engaged the International Labour Organisation to study its Colombian practices. The company claims it is a target simply because it is a global brand, and has launched a campaign against this ‘slander’. However it could be argued it is too little too late: Coca Cola’s reputation is in trouble. All over the world, consumers are taking a stand against the giant of the drink industry.
In the US, teachers’ unions have voted to remove Coke’s vending machines from schools, and despite the multinational’s advertising campaign in the student press, 10 universities have also banned the company from their campuses. While US postal workers demanded a ban, protesters objected to Coca Cola’s sponsorship of this year’s Winter Olympics by interrupting the carrying of the torch ceremony. A hunger strike was reported at one Indian plant, ended only by the state government’s agreement to investigate water depletion and pollution accusations. A quarter of India’s states banned the soft drink after it was alleged that it contained pesticide levels 27 times the permitted amount.
Written 2005 (note October 2013- I have no idea why this was re-blogged and it must be something I´m doing wrong when I correct mistakes and update! On the other hand, since this issue is getting no better and is never covered by the mainstream media, maybe it needs saying again…….)