Jesús Gallego, International Coordinator, UGT; Gail Cartmail, UNITE AGS; Fátima Aguado Queipo, International Secretary FSC-CCOO; John Hendy, QC IER at our Breakfast Meeting
19 February 2016
In a ruling on 16th February, a Spanish court acquitted eight Airbus aerospace workers facing prison terms of eight years and three months each for having participated in a peaceful strike in 2010.
The eight trade unionists, members of the CC.OO de Industria and MCA-UGT unions were charged after joining a hundreds of workers in a general strike in September 2010, against austerity measures and changes to the Spanish labour code including the so-called gagging laws.
The eight workers consistently denied the charges of ‘acting with violence’ and ‘attacking the right to work’, and after the trial concluded on 12th February the Court acquitted them.
“Today is a great day for democracy,” said José Alcazar, president of the Airbus works council and one of the trade unionists charged.
“This is important not only for the eight but for the whole labour movement in our country.”
The eight workers, Tomás García, Enrique Gil, Rodolfo Malo, José Alcazar, Raúl Fernández, Armando Barco, Jerónimo Martín and Edgar Martín, had been charged under Article 315.3 of the Spanish Penal Code, which allows for prison sentences for picketing trade unionists.
The law dates back to the fascist Franco regime and has been labeled an attack on trade unions and the right to strike by the union movement.
Trade unions in Spain have protested vehemently against the charges, supported by the international trade union movement.
On 9th February, thousands of trade unionists marched on the streets of Madrid to protest against the trial.
Unite Assistant General Secretary Gail Cartmail, who chaired a TUC briefing of UK trade unionists along with Spanish union representatives on the morning of the 12th February, said: “This is a major step forward for Spain’s unions defending their right to strike and a blow for the ‘gagging law’.”
Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary, said: “This is a victory for the Spanish unions and for the workers who were exercising their fundamental rights,” said “But we continue to support our affiliates in their demands to drop charges in other similar cases and to repeal Article 315.3, which criminalizes the right to strike”
This article was originally published by the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom