Coca-Cola still using slave labor despite efforts to appear “woke” – report
08/02/2021 // Franz Walker // Views

Coca-Cola has been trying to appear "woke" in recent months. But despite these efforts, a new report shows that the company is still using suppliers that use slave labor in China's Xinjiang province.

Consumers' Research, an educational nonprofit dedicated to consumer information, launched a new commercial on Thursday, July 15, calling out the soda giant. The commercial called out the contradiction between the company's political posturing and the reality of how it conducts business.

"Today, we are launching and the accompanying ads as a satirical reminder to Coke to focus on their consumers, not woke politicians," Consumers’ Research executive director Will Hild, in a statement to Fox Business.

"The company has taken its eye off the well-being of the customer," he said.

Coca-Cola tries to be "woke" while its suppliers still use forced labor

As part of its ads, Consumers' Research calls out Coca-Cola for being one of several big-name U.S. brands that have lobbied against a bill aiming to bar companies from using labor in China's Xinjiang province. The latter is where Muslim minority populations are subject to forced labor, on top of other human rights violations.

"They have sourced sugar from companies in China reportedly using forced labor," said Hild. "And they have such poor quality control that racist directives, like' 'be less white' are included in staff trainings."

Hild references Coca-Cola's attempts to promote an online training seminar, available on LinkedIn, that urges its employees to "be less white" in an effort to supposedly combat racial discrimination.


In a letter shared with FOX Business, Coca-Cola has since stated that the slides attributed to the company's training program "are not part of the company's learning curriculum." It further clarified that its "Better Together" training program is "part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace."

Consumers' Research points out that this "woke" stance is hypocritical in the face of Coca-Cola's position on the issue of China's Xinjiang province.

Last November, the New York Times reported that the soda giant was one of a number of multinational companies that were lobbying against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. This act would have prevented the importation of goods made by Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region, many of whom can be considered part of a modern slave labor force at the command of the Chinese Communist Party.

"Xinjiang produces vast amounts of raw materials like cotton, coal, sugar, tomatoes and polysilicon, and supplies workers for China’s apparel and footwear factories," The NYT reported.

"Human rights groups and news reports have linked many multinational companies to suppliers there, including tying Coca-Cola to sugar sourced from Xinjiang, and documenting Uighur workers in a factory in Qingdao that makes Nike shoes."

Other multinationals lobbying against anti-Uyghur forced labor bill

Coca-Cola wasn't the only company that lobbied against the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. In November, Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), co-sponsor of the act, as well as the author of the Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act, called out companies, such as Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola, for paying big money to lobbying firms to water down the bill. (Related: Bipartisan bill seeks to declare China’s Uyghur policy “genocide”.)

In response, the companies involved denied looking to weaken the bill. Talking to The New York Times, a Coca-Cola representative stated that the company "strictly prohibits any type of forced labor" in its supply chain.

Meanwhile, Nike stated that it was not lobbying against the bill. Instead, a representative stated that the company was having "constructive discussions" with congressional staff about how to eliminate forced labor.

Apple also denied trying to weaken the bill. The tech giant stated that "looking for the presence of forced [labor] is part of every supplier assessment we conduct." It added that any supposed violation of its policies on forced labor "carry immediate consequences, including business termination."

But Wexton pointed out that if these companies were auditing their supply chains as they claim, then the legislation wouldn't be an issue and that the companies would have nothing to object to.

Follow for more on the forced labor and other abuses Uyghurs are being subjected to in China's Xinjiang province.

Sources include:

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