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Major defeat for coke at INTO conference

John McAnulty

2nd April 2005

Fighting tooth and nail all the way, misrepresenting the struggle in Colombia, slandering Colombian trade unionists, hinting at links between the Sinaltrainal trade union and the FARC guerrillas, the INTO leadership fought a thoroughly disreputable fight to defend the union’s sponsorship by Coca-Cola, using all the fake arguments supplied by Coca-Cola itself.

Such was the level of leadership opposition that for the first day the conference was ‘dry’ with no liquids available to the delegates. Large containers of Galway water were stored in the INTO office, but not made available to the delegates until Tuesday. There seems little doubt that the defeat of the Coke resolution would have seen the containers removed and a lorry-load of Coke and ‘Deep River Rock’ taking their place.

In the event the executive were roundly defeated. Speakers from Droichead Nua, Dublin North and East Down spoke out, with useful co-operation between Socialist Democracy members and members of the Socialist Workers Party who were delegates. A lucrative arrangement where Coke provided free drinks and paid for an exhibition stand was brought to an end. Also ended was what Coke bought for its money – respectability, links with the trade union movement, defence and insurance against the murder charges that dog it around the world.

Of some significance also was the method used to achieve this victory. A member of Socialist Democracy took up the issue with his union branch. With the support of his branch he was able to appeal directly to branches throughout the 32 counties over the heads of the bureaucracy and then to collaborate with other branch delegates and the SWP to rally support in the congress. We hope this case study will help break activists from the current practice of unity with the bureaucrats – a unity that all too often means the stifling of any radical voice in the unions.


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