Worker’s Centre leads protest against Coke

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By Jamie McLeod

There’s a killer on campus, and the Working Students’ Centre is trying to stop it.In case you’re wondering, the killer is Coke. As in the red-canned beverage.

On Tuesday, the Working Students’ Centre organized “Coca-Cola: Destroying Lives, Livelihoods and Communities,” an event featuring Amit Srivastava, co-ordinator of the India Resource Centre and an activist against Coke.

The event took place after The Eyeopener went to press, but Srivastava planned to talk about “recent grassroots struggles in India against the giant multinational (Coke)” according to the event advertisements.

The Killer Coke campaign accuses Coca-Cola products in India of having high levels of pesticides, and conspiring with militias in Colombia to kill union leaders and crush unions at their plants.

“Coke is the biggest beverage company in the world, and the most recognizable in the world, but it’s a very ugly company,” said Ray Rogers, the director of the Killer Coke Campaign.

The campaign hit Ryerson last year when it was taken up by the Ryerson Students’ Union via the Working Students’ Centre.

“An eventual goal is to ban Coke,” says Sanjid Anik, a fourth year ITM student, and the coordinator for the Working Students’ Centre.

Ryerson currently has an exclusivity contract with Coca-Cola.

The Killer Coke campaign claims to have influenced 31 university or college campuses across North America to ban Coke in some form.

The Working Students’ Centre held a “Day of Action” on Oct. 11 when it let students trade in Coke products for organic carbonated beverages.

The Working Students’ Centre’s main mandate is to advise and help students regarding worker’s rights, but it also does take on larger campaigns like Killer Coke.

“I think it’s really fitting that the Working Students’ Centre is taking it on,” said Nora Loreto, RSU vice-president education.

“It’s about recognizing that we’re global citizens,” she said. “It’s about quality of life.”

Coca-Cola refused comment on the issue.

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