The Union of Students in Ireland have passed a motion to support SIPTU’s #TasteZeroRights campaign in protest of Coca–Cola’s denial of workers rights to unionise in the west of Ireland.
Since October 2014, workers in Coca–Cola’s base in Co. Mayo have been seeking union recognition for the purposes of collective bargaining. Coca Cola have two Labour Court recommendations that state that the company should recognise SIPTU for those employees in membership of the Union, but the company has shut down discussion on the Labour Court recommendations.
The company’s human rights policy states ‘where employees are represented by a legally recognised union, we are committed to establishing a constructive dialogue with their freely chosen representatives. The company is committed to bargaining in good faith with such representatives.’ The company are clearly in breach of their own human rights policy by failing to engage in collective bargaining with SIPTU and its members.
There has been serious escalations in Trade Union activity due to the blocking of unionising rights for workers in both the Ballina Breweries and in the UK. On the 12th of March, National Union of Students in the UK (NUS UK) wrote to the President and CEO of The Coca Cola Company and USI will now follow suit.
USI President, Síona Cahill welcomes 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 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 are 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.”
Following the lead from NUS UK and the UK led campaign, USI will be drafting a letter of correspondence to Mr 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.
The Union of Students in Ireland represent over 374,000 students across the island of Ireland.
SIPTU represents the majority of core production workers in the Coca Cola Company plant in Ballina Beverages, County Mayo – just 30 minutes away from where USI annual Congress was taking place.
USI and SIPTU have a partnership agreement that allows students to benefit from SIPTU’s services including free access to the Workers’ Rights Centre.
USI’s 60th annual congress took place from the 1st – 4th April, during this time students debated motions that once passed became part of USI’s policy book.
This motion was brought before USI’s 60th annual Congress in Co.Mayo, by USI Vice President for Campaigns, Michelle Byrne.