FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HONG KONG, 31 August 2009

Violence in Coca-Cola’s Labor Subcontracting System in China

On the 12th of August 2009, a labor dispatch company hired by Coca-Cola’s designated Hangzhou-based bottling plant was discovered to have threatened two university student-workers who asked for their own and their two other fellow workers’ backpay upon their resignation. Xiao Liang, 24, was beaten up by two managers at the labor dispatch company’s office, resulting in serious wounds over his left eye, left hand, and right ear. Xiao Xu sent Xiao Liang to the Dongfang Hospital immediately after police arrived on the scene. Xiao Liang was later diagnosed with a ruptured eardrum, resulting in compromised hearing capacity.

In these past three weeks, Xiao Liang suffered huge psychological pressure in reporting his grievances to Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola’s Hangzhou partner, and the local authorities. A new university semester is about to start. Local police officers have notified Xiao Liang’s faculty and his parents of the case details. Meanwhile, he is required to report daily to the police to assist in the ongoing investigation.

Despite their declared commitment to corporate responsibility, Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage company, has never approached the student-workers to explain wage arrears and use of violence.

Full text of the statement is available in word and pdf format.

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The report produced by the Student Coca Cola Campaign Team in December 2008, ‘Coca Cola: The world’s most valuable brand is evading its social and legal responsibility, is available in English and Chinese.

Abstract:

As the world’s largest beverage producer, Coca Cola sells its products in more than 200 countries worldwide. Currently, the Coca Cola operation in China includes two concentrate factories, 35 bottling plants and relationships with 371 suppliers on Chinese mainland.

We investigated five bottling factories and four suppliers on the Chinese mainland, and discovered many problems facing the large group of contract workers in Coca Cola factories. As the lowest level employees in the Coca Cola Companies, contract workers do the toughest and most arduous jobs and work very long hours (up to 330 hours per month during busy seasons). But they receive meager wages, a portion of which is embezzled by their employers. Canteen facilities are often very poor and some workers do not get even food to sustain themselves over a work shift.