"The Prosecution Demands a 66-Year Prison Sentence for Eight Airbus Workers"
Published 2015-01-02 from the ILC International Newsletter #206:
Letter written 2014-12-12 by Pablo Garcia-Cano Locatelli at Getafe (Madrid), a participant in the European Labour Conferences of Tarragon and Paris, executive member of the CCOO Madrid Industry and of the John Deere Company Committee.
To the activists who took part in the European Labour Conferences in Tarragon, the 16th and 17th of March 2013, then in Paris the 1st and 2nd of March 2014 and to the international labour movement.
During the European Labour conferences held in Tarragon and Paris, the Spanish activists that took part denounced the international institutions that accompany the serious attacks on workers’ rights, attacks imposed by governments, at the beck and call of the Troika and finance capital, through the violent campaign against the right to strike and all democratic and union liberties in their country.
In a letter addressed to the activists who took part in the European Labour Conferences (the 16th and 17th of March 2013 in Tarragon and the 1st and 2nd of March 2014 in Paris) and to the international labour movement, Spanish labour activists denounced the pursuance and aggravation of these attacks on one of the most fundamental gains won by the working class in its struggle against exploitation.
In Spain, the government treats trade unionists on strike as criminals, imposing worse conditions and heavier sentences on them than those inflicted for instance, for homicide or violence. This repression aims at frightening workers and gagging their unions.
A report on the situation of some three hundred trade unionists, taken to court for striking was demanded at the last meeting of the “Platform of trade unionists for Democracy and Trade Union independence”.
The prosecution piloted by the government, demands at the present 120 years of prison just for the first court hearings (as in the case of the eight from Airbus), for their having taken part in pickets giving out information during the general strikes in defence of collective bargaining agreements or against budget cuts in public services.
The accusations of the judges are based on Article 315.3 of the Criminal Code. This provides for a minimum of three to four or five years imprisonment for a so-called “crime against worker rights” (a strike, according to the judges constituting an obstacle to the “right” to work – editor's note). The sentences can be still heavier. The most emblematic case is that of the eight workers from Airbus who come in for the heaviest sentences. The prosecution is asking for sixty-six years of imprisonment (eight years three months for each one of them). Such sentences on trade unionists have not been seen since the dictatorship of Franco.
Last 10 December the first hearing in the N° 1 Criminal Court of Getafe took place. We were several hundred trade unionists assembled at the Court gates. The CCOO General Secretary (Workers Commissions – editor's note), Ignacio Fernandez Toxo explained that no reduction of the sentence had been obtained, the prosecution maintaining its accusation.
He indicated that a new hearing was fixed for 11th of February next; And he launched an appeal demanding that the government and parliament, in the future debate on the Criminal Code , annul point 3 in Article 315 and that court proceedings against strikers be dropped.
The CCOO General Secretary said that during the meeting of the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICTU) leadership, the preparations for a global 24 hour action on the 18th February next, will be proposed, in defence of the right to strike, with actions in each country, demanding that all governments and employers' confederations respect union freedom and especially in cases like that of Spain , put an end to court proceedings against trade unions. It is not only a question of conducting a solidarity campaign with the Airbus eight or the three hundred brought to court in Spain (among them , four comrades from my factory). Today there is a brutal employers' offensive at the ILO to reform Conventions that protect the right to strike and union freedom.
In my opinion, we can have absolutely no confidence in the fact or even the least hope that the Spanish government changes the situation. Only the organisation of true, strong and united mobilisation by our Union Confederations can win over the cancellation of court proceedings against the strikers and the repeal of Article 315. in the Criminal Code. We have seen that “social dialogue” with the government changes nothing. On the contrary, trials continue and prosecution continues to ask for longer and longer prison sentences and tougher financial sanctions against workers.
It is essential that this mobilisation spreads to every country so that the Rajoy government feels pressure from the whole international labour movement during the two months preceding the global 24 hour action day in defence of the right to strike and the ruling on the Airbus eight , demanding that striking be not a crime , that Article 315.3 in the Criminal Code be repealed and that it be clear, that if they touch one of us they touch us all .