The country’s largest trade union, SIPTU, has called for a Dublin-wide ban on Coca-Cola products, following a dispute between the company and its employees over strike action regarding proposed redundancies at its Irish bottling plants.
SIPTU workers in UCD have lent their full support to their colleagues in Coca-Cola, and hosted a talk about their situation on campus last week. It was announced in early June that the company was to outsource jobs from its distribution centres and warehouses in Dublin, Cork, Tipperary, Waterford and Galway.
SIPTU allege that Coca-Cola refused to engage with talks in them. After balloting in favour of strike action, SIPTU workers were informed by Coca-Cola that they should accept the redundancy proposals or face dismissal. They rejected these proposals and were informed that they were to be made redundant nonetheless. According to SIPTU, Coca-Cola have refused to recognise a Labour Court recommendation to renegotiate the redundancy package offered to the 130 workers affected.
The circumstances of the Coca-Cola workers will be one of the issues highlighted at SIPTU’s next branch meeting, scheduled for 3rd November. UCD Senior Lecturer in Classics and SIPTU representative, Dr Theresa Urbainczyk, said “the situation at Coca-Cola is really dire.”
Late last month, the members of Tuam Town Council held a general meeting during which they voted unanimously in favour of a boycott in the Co. Galway town, as a mark of solidarity with the 27 Coca-Cola workers affected in the locale. In line with the motion, the Council’s members have asked local retailers and residents not to buy Coca-Cola products. SIPTU are optimistic that a similar arrangement can be made in the country’s capital.
Coca-Cola products are already banned from sale in UCD Students’ Union outlets around campus, following two student referenda passed in 2004, in protest against Coca-Cola’s alleged involvement in the murder of trade union activists at its bottling plants in Colombia. UCD Students’ Union was the first institution in the world to pass a ban of this kind at the time.