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SIPTU Conference rejects call to disinvest in Coca Cola

Gearoid O’Loingsigh

10th October 2004

Siptu’s Regional conference held in Dublin on 7th and 8th of October narrowly voted to defeat a motion calling on the union to divest itself of any shares that it has in Coca Cola in solidarity with Colombian workers.  The motion attempted to put into effect the motion that was passed at Siptu’s national conference last year which committed the union to ethical investment policies.

However, the Siptu leadership had little intention of putting the previous year’s motion into effect.  The Dublin regional executive voted overwhelmingly to oppose the move arguing that it would affect workers’ pensions and that Siptu couldn’t possibly divest itself of shares in any company.

At the conference they argued again that they couldn’t do this and that they had already shown solidarity with Colombian trade unionists by sending a letter to the Colombian Vice President.  They also pointed out that they were going to Colombia, but forgot to mention that Sinaltrainal, the coke workers’ union knows nothing of the pending “solidarity’ visit.

Many delegates to the conference paid no heed to the Siptu leadership.  Although the motion was defeated it was by a small margin 156 to 142, a mere 14 votes in the difference.  It is clear that though the Siptu and ICTU leadership are quite clearly opposed to any criticism or opposition to Coca Cola many in the trade union movement are in favour of different types of action.

It remains to be seen what the future holds.  Sinaltrainal is due to visit Ireland on October 18th and has requested a meeting with the Coke workers in Ireland.  Siptu has agreed to meet Sinaltrainal, and this should clarify whether there has been any movement. 

The TUI have agreed to a meeting with Sinaltrainal and other trade unionists are also due to meet with them.

Edgar Paez will speak at Wynne’s Hotel on October 18th at 7.30 PM 



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