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Coca Cola violates labor rights, Colombia

Violation of workers' rights, death threats, judicial persecution, unfair and/or arbitrary dismissals and defamation campaigns. The secret ingredients of CocaCola in Colombia.


Summary of the case: The company in conflict is the US-based Coca Cola Company, which operates in Colombia through its subsidiary Coca Cola Femsa S.A. The activities that encompass the accusation took place between 1996 and 2014 in several parts of Colombia and include, among other, the violation of the rights of the workers and in particular their trade union rights, through: death threats, judicial persecution, wrongful and/or arbitrary terminations, and defamation campaigns; as well as the complicity of the local government, the army and the paramilitary groups in order to avoid the affiliation of the workers to trade unions. This was recognized in the 2008 Permanent Peoples Tribunal session, by the Committee on Freedom of Association of the International Labour Organization in their recommendation of June, 2009 – which were not respected – and the precautionary measures dictated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. It is this sustained that the activities of the company constitute a violation of the ILO Conventions and Recommendations, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and of the Constitution and Labour Law of Colombia.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Coca Cola violates labor rights, Colombia
Location of conflict:El caso se refiere a la conducta de la transnacional en todo el pais.
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Specific commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:01/01/1996
Company names or state enterprises:Coca-Cola Company from United States of America
Coca-Cola FEMSA from Mexico
Industria Nacional de Gaseosas S.A. from Colombia
Relevant government actors:Gobierno de Colombia, República de Colombia, Ministerio del Trabajo (Colombia), Cortes de Apelaciones de Estados Unidos (circuito 11), Corte del Distrito de Miami (EE.UU.)
International and Finance InstitutionsInternational Labour Organization (ILO) from Switzerland
International Criminal Court (ICC)
European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR)
Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Sinaltrainal, CETIM, Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Permanent Peoples Tribunal
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Boycotts of companies-products
Presentation to the case to the Permanent Peoples Tribunal
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The situation of the workers has not improved and the company has not been held responsible for the crimes committed. In April 2015, members of Sinaltrainal have declared a hunger strike in protest at the lack of responsibilities.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO
[click to view]

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
[click to view]

Código Sustantivo del Trabajo de Colombia
[click to view]

Constitución de Colombia
[click to view]

[1] Collingsworth, T. (2006, Mar. 5). Another “Classic Coke” Move to Deny and Delay Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Colombia. International Labor Rights Fund
[click to view]

[2] U.S. Court of Appeals Eleventh Circuit (2009, Aug. 11). No. 06-15851
[click to view]

[3] International Labor Organization (2009, Jun.). Informe en el que el Comité pide que se le mantenga informado de la evolución de la situación - Informe núm. 354, Caso. Num. 2595.
[click to view]

[4] The Coca Cola Company (2006, Jan. 25). The Facts: The Coca-Cola Company And Colombia
[click to view]

[5] ECCHR (no date). La violencia contra defensores de derechos humanos
[click to view]

[6] Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (2014, Jul. 18). Medida Cautelar No. 641-02. Asunto Sinaltrainal Respecto de Colombia
[click to view]
[click to view]

[click to view]

Testimony of the case in the Permanent Peoples Tribunal Hearing - Corporate Human Rights Violations and Peoples Access to Justice. Geneva, 23 June 2014
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Javier Correa, presidente sindical.

El líder sindical pinta un panorama horroroso al periodista Dick Emanuelsson (ANNCOL), en donde paramilitares amenazan a los obreros organizados desde adentro de las plantas, o como tanquetas de la policía antidisturbios entran a las plantas para reprimir a los obreros.

En la entrevista Javier Correa también relata como Coca Cola aprovecha su poderío para utilizar el Poder Judicial en su criminalización al sindicato en su defensa a los trabajadores de Coca Cola.
[click to view]

Other comments:See more at:
Meta information
Contributor:Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Transnational Institute - TNI
Last update05/12/2016
Conflict ID:2002
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