Activists Protest Coca-Cola’s African AIDS Policies at Shareholder Meeting in New York
Protesting outside the Coca-Cola Co.'s annual shareholder meeting in Manhattan yesterday, activists said the company has "fail[ed] to cover the cost of HIV/AIDS treatment" for most of its African workforce, the Washington Post reports. Protestors said that Coke, one of the largest private employers in Africa, offers treatment coverage to only 1.5% of its workers there, despite "promising" to extend that coverage to all its African employees. "Most of these workers [receiving treatment] are from the managerial corps. In other words, it's medical apartheid, because most of the people in the managerial corps are white and most of the factory and distribution workers are African," University of Maryland student Alba Chavez said. But Coke spokesperson Sonya Soutus called protestors' information "not quite accurate," explaining that the company provides treatment to its 1,500 "direct employees" in Africa while its "bottling partners" are currently "working toward" providing the same coverage for their employees (White, Washington Post, 4/18). The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the thousands of workers at those bottling plants "suffer from the disease at a higher rate" than do Coke's direct employees (Wall Street Journal, 6/20/01).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.