The Edinburgh University Students' Association’s board of trustees has chosen to repeal the boycott on SABMiller products which was passed as a referendum to students.
In a statement released by the board of trustees EUSA said that the decision was not taken lightly. They explained that the decision for the repeal of the boycott “was taken on both financial and reputation grounds”. The statement also explained that following the boycott a “serious deterioration” had occurred with some of the brewers that supply EUSA.
EUSA has claimed that the SABMiller brewery firm does practice an ethical tax structure and other brewers feared that they may be boycotted in the future as SABMiller is seen as an ethical company within the international market. As a result EUSA stated that some sponsors and suppliers for the festival were withdrawing their contracts which meant the association faced losing hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The campaign to boycott SABMiller products was proposed by the ‘Bollocks to Poverty’ association which was involved with the 'ActionAid' charity which released a report on SABMiller claiming that the corporation failed to pay tax in many developing states in Africa. The report has been refuted by EUSA claiming that a number of claims made by Action Aid were not completely accurate.
In a statement to The Journal, Chris Jordon who is 'ActionAid’s' tax justice campaigner hit back at claimed that the report was unreliable when he said: “We are extremely surprised that the EUSA trustees concluded there was no “concrete evidence” that SABMiller abuses loopholes in the international tax system to avoid paying its taxes in Africa.
“Our research, recently cited by the IMF and based on SABMiller’s own accounts, show the company is systematically shifting profits out of Africa and into tax havens.”
In a statement on their official Facebook page ‘Bollocks to Poverty Edinburgh’ stated that they felt the repeal of the boycott was “undemocratic” and lacked transparency.
Despite this, EUSA stand by their decision to repeal the boycott which they felt was misleading and cited the legal obligation they had to ensure that the associations reputation and financial stability.