The April 2019 national congress of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) voted to endorse SIPTU and the IUF’s #TasteZeroRights campaign to protest Coca-Cola’s denial of worker rights in the west of Ireland. USI represents 347,000 students across the island of Ireland.
Since October 2014, workers in Coca-Cola’s concentrate factory in Co. Mayo have been organizing for union recognition and collective bargaining rights. The Labour Court has twice issued recommendations that the company should recognise SIPTU as the collective bargaining representative for those employees who have joined the union, but the company has refused to act on the Labour Court’s recommendations.
USI President, Síona Cahill welcomed the passing of this motion, stating:
“Young people are the main target market for Coca Cola products and have great weight in this campaign. This is not the first time there have been issues with The Coca Cola Company violating human rights. Previously Students’ Unions threatened boycotts of Coca Cola during the Anti-War movement, and we may be forced into such action again if this persists”
SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley, said:
“When they act in solidarity workers and students are one of the most powerful forces for social change. This has been the case globally and in Ireland over many decades. USI’s pledge of support for SIPTU members being denied their human rights by Coca Cola in Ballina will send a powerful message to that company. The passing of this motion also makes clear that SIPTU and USI will continue to campaign together on issues of mutual interest and in order to support the aims of our members in both unions.”
SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser, Teresa Hannick, said:
“SIPTU members in Ballina Beverages in Coca Cola welcome the USI Congress support for their campaign for collective bargaining rights. They also welcome the USI Congress support for the IUF Taste Zero Rights campaign. The company is clearly in breach of their own human rights policy by failing to engage in collective bargaining with SIPTU and its members. Hopefully, this motion will help the management to come to their senses and accept that their workers have a right to be collectively represented by the union of their choice.”
USI and SIPTU leaders join forces in support of the Zero Rights campaign
Following the lead from NUS UK and the UK led campaign, USI will be writing to Coca-Cola’s CEO and Chairman James Quincey in support of the SIPTU members in Ballina and raise their concerns over this breach of the human rights of Coca Cola workers in Ballina Beverages and ongoing assaults on Coca-Cola workers elsewhere.