Photo: Mike Mozart

Is it time to say goodbye to Coca Cola at Warwick SU?

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  • NUS raises motion to boycott Coca Cola
  • If motion passes, SUs will not be able to buy Coke at a discount through NUS buying consortium
  • 150 sabbatical officers, including 3 from Warwick, sign letter to oppose the boycott of Coca Cola
  • Isaac Leigh says the NUS is ‘failing to represent its membership’

A row has broken out within the National Union of Students (NUS) over boycotting the Coca Cola company. A boycott could mean Warwick students will have to pay more at Warwick’s Students’ Union (SU) for any of the wide range of products owned by the company.

The row started after the NUS national president, Megan Dunn, accepted sponsorship from the Coca Cola company for an annual NUS event.

However, some members of the NUS national executive committee were left unhappy as the Coca Cola company is on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign list.

According to its own website, the BDS movement is “a call for a campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.”

The NUS voted last year to adopt the BDS policy, meaning it is not allowed to support BDS listed products or companies.

If the NUS claims to be a democratic body or in any way member-focused then policy that has been passed nationally should be adhered to, whether or not the officer in question personally believes in the policy.

Cindy Asokan, undergraduate Social Sciences faculty representative

The Coca Cola company has been placed on the BDS list as the Coca Cola Israel franchise operates factories on land which many in the international community regard as illegal Israeli settlements.

However, Coca Cola insists that they support Palestinians by providing employment opportunities and community development. They said: “We’re proud to be the country’s third largest employer and fifth largest investor.”

The company’s website also notes that they have provided 10,000 Palestinian children with football training, life skills training and health education.

Earlier this week, the NUS’ executive committee voted to censure Miss Dunn and mandated her to issue an apology for letting Coca Cola sponsor an NUS event.

The motion passed by 20 votes to 13. Among those that voted for this motion to pass was Warwick University’s undergraduate Social Sciences faculty representative, Cindy Asokan.

Miss Asokan told the Boar that her vote wasn’t all to do with the policy, but rather to send a message to the NUS president or any other officer that they should not be allowed to ignore NUS policies due to personal beliefs.

She stated: “If the NUS claims to be a democratic body or in any way member focused then policy that has been passed nationally should be adhered to, whether or not the officer in question personally believes in the policy.”

The NUS executive committee has also put forward another motion to boycott the Coca Cola brand and pull it out of the NUS buying consortium.

In not consulting with unions on this issue, the NUS is failing to represent its membership.

Isaac Leigh, Warwick SU president elect

This means that Coca Cola and its associated brands would be pulled out of the NUS Services Limited buying consortium. This consortium is currently used to bulk buy items for SUs which makes these products cheaper for the students.

If Coca Cola and the other brands owned by the company are pulled out of the consortium, then there is a risk that these products could become more expensive for students in SU outlets.

Isaac Leigh, president elect of Warwick SU, stated: “My own personal opinion is that in not consulting with unions on this issue, the NUS is failing to represent its membership.”

Currently many brands are owned by Coca Cola including Fanta, Sprite, Evian, Oasis, Innocent and many more. If the boycott motion passes, Warwick SU may have to drop Coca Cola products or face purchasing the products at a higher price.

However, 150 sabbatical officers from across the country, including Mr Leigh, have come together to sign a letter petitioning the NUS to reject a boycott of Coca Cola.

Three sabbatical officers from Warwick, including Isaac Leigh, postgraduate officer Andrew Thompson and welfare and campaigns officer Bebe Husakova have signed this letter.

The Boar has contacted the NUS for comment.

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