New SU president takes a stand against the NUS

  • NUS national committee to vote on a motion to boycott Coca Cola
  • Isaac Leigh signed a letter reminding the NUS it should ‘Protect, defend and extend the rights of students… for students, with students’ unions.’
  • 150 Sabbs from around the UK signed the letter to petition the NUS
  • Mr Leigh warned that the impact of a Coca Cola boycott remains unclear
  • Risk that Coca Cola brand drink prices could be increased in SU venues

Isaac Leigh, president-elect of Warwick Students’ Union (SU), has joined 150 sabbatical officers from across the country to sign a letter petitioning the NUS to reject a proposed boycott of Coca Cola.

The NUS National Executive Committee (NEC) have put forward a motion to boycott the Coca Cola brand and pull it out of the NUS buying consortium.

This means that Coca Cola and its associated brands would be removed from the NUS Services Limited buying consortium which is currently used to bulk buy items for SUs.

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

Prices for Coca Cola products could see an increase in SU venues Photo: Nathan Wong / Flickr

However, a letter has been signed by 150 sabbatical officers, including Isaac Leigh, to oppose the proposed boycott of Coca Cola products. The letter was also signed by Warwick postgraduate officer Andrew Thompson and welfare and campaigns officer Bebe Husakova.

We expect a national union which represents us as the constituent members of NUS
Isaac Leigh

The sabbatical officers’ letter reminded the NUS that their aim was to “Protect, defend and extend the rights of students… for students, with students’ unions.”

It went on to suggest that the motion to boycott Coca Cola worked against the NUS’ aim as it didn’t improve students’ lives.

The letter also added: “Students’ unions are the core membership of NUS, and this motion prevents students’ unions buying Coca Cola through the Purchasing Consortium without any form of consultation with unions.

“We expect a national union which represents us as the constituent members of NUS, and any decision affecting us should be taken by us and not the National Executive Committee.”

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

Mr Leigh suggested that there were concerns over Coca Cola’s business practices and highlighted that the NUS buying consortium’s boycott of the company was one way of voicing opposition.

The well loved brand is at risk of an NUS boycott Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr

However, he added: “Realistically though, I feel this is a discussion for the student body to debate as a whole, rather than a handful of representatives – whether that’s in individual unions or nationwide.”

Mr Leigh also stated: ” The various ramifications are unclear at the present time, which is why we are so disappointed at the lack of consultation with SUs.”

A boycott of the Coca Cola company is being called for by the NUS as Coca Cola has been placed on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign list because the Coca Cola Israel franchise operates factories in, what many in the international community regard as, illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory.

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.”

Last year, a vote in the NUS adopted the BDS policy, meaning the NUS is not allowed to support BDS listed products or companies.

Jennie Watkin, a second-year Ancient History student was confused as to how boycotting Coke would help to diffuse the situation in Palestine. She commented: “This issue is a minute part of what happens over there and they will still fight no matter how many bottles of Coke we consume.”

She added: “As long as Tango isn’t affected! Now that would be blasphemous.”

The Boar can confirm that Tango is owned by Britvic and is unlikely to be affected by the BDS movement.

The NUS have been contacted for comment.

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