A STUDENTS’ Union (SU) shop was in breach of the SU Coca-Cola boycott last week when it sold Coca-Cola brand products. Products such as Lilt and Diet Coke were available to buy from the shelves of the SU Shop located in the Engineering and Material Science Centre.
SU President, Aodhán Ó Deá, described himself as “pretty shocked”, stating that the matter had not been brought to his attention. The cans were removed from the shelves after Mr Ó’Deá was informed of the situation.
Mr Ó Deá explained that cans were put for sale in the shop because “the people who were filling the vending machines had a few cans left over” and placed them on the shelves instead. The vending machines in question are located in the same space as the Engineering shop but are “not controlled by the SU”, according to Mr Ó Deá.
Confident that the incident would not occur again, Mr Ó Deá believes it was “just a case of explaining to the new staff about the Coca-Cola boycott”. He continued to say that the employee who placed the products on the shelf “was someone who wasn’t familiar with the Coca-Cola boycott… the person didn’t realise that Lilt is part of Coca-Cola.”
Despite denying responsibility for the sale of the Coca-Cola products, Mr Ó Deá added “I suppose indirectly, I do [accept the duty]”. He then accepted responsibility for not informing the staff, adding “I suppose in the bigger context I’d say there was a fair amount of responsibility at the managers in those shops to enforce the boycott”.
Mr Ó Deá was also unaware of the Coca-Cola Working Group which has been mandated by SU council to investigate and publicise the boycott and called on Campaigns and Communications Officer, Dan O’Neill to clarify the situation.
“The reason it hasn’t been set up is because we haven’t actually even had our first union council,” said Mr O’Neill “so it’s not really appropriate to do it as of yet because we won’t be able to allow the council to put themselves forward to sit on the said committee.”
The SU-run Coca-Cola boycott was enforced on campus following a referendum held in 2003, when students voted to ban Coca-Cola products from SU shops. Other universities followed this boycott after students introduced the ban.
The ban was a response to Colombian trade unions calling for a worldwide boycott against Coca-Cola, following reports in the global media linking Coca-Cola to human rights abuses against trade unions in Colombia.