The Senate today approved the repeal of article 315.3 of the penal code that specified prison sentences for members of violent pickets who were convicted. The measure was part of the agreements of the PSOE, United We Can and the rest of the Government’s partners.
The aforementioned article says that “those who, acting in a group or individually, but in agreement with others, coerce other people to start or continue a strike, will be punished with the prison sentence of one year and nine months up to three years or with a fine of eighteen months to twenty-four months».
The unions and left-wing parties have been demanding the repeal of this article because more than 300 people, mostly trade unionists, have been tried and convicted to prison for years for his participation in violent pickets in the general strikes of September 29, 2010, March 29, 2012 and November 14 of that year.
However, unions recognize no convicted person has entered prison. Most of the time, because the sentences were not high and did not entail going to jail. Others, because the higher courts reduced or annulled the sentences and, also, because they were inducted.
With the removal of the article, Another fundamental right, to go to work, will be limited against the right to strike, according to legal experts and employers consulted, since paragraphs 1 and 2 of said article are maintained: «1. Those who, through deception or abuse of a situation of necessity, prevent or limit the exercise of trade union freedom or the right to strike will be punished with prison terms of six months to two years or a fine of six to twelve months. 2. If the behaviors outlined in the previous section are carried out with coercion, they will be punished with a prison sentence of one year and nine months up to three years or with a fine of 18 to 24 months ”.
“Today is a great day for democracy in our country and for workers,” declared the general secretary of CC.OO., Unai Sordo, after the Senate approved today the repeal of article 315.3 of the penal code which punished trade unionists with “disproportionate” penalties “With the aim of restricting the right to strike.”
Sordo has had words of gratitude to the political forces that have made it possible with their vote and “of recognition to the more than 300 people prosecuted with requests for prison sentences to try to repress through article 315.3 of the Penal Code and the Gag Law right to strike and other mobilizations against austerity policies ”.
«We will never, never, never allow the fundamental right to strike to be demonized of the workers, without whom democracy is not understood in our country ”, emphasized the secretary general of CC. OO.
For Pepe Álvarez, secretary general of the UGT, this criminal article “clashed with the right to strike which, like other Western democracies, is contemplated in the Constitution.”
Álvarez affirms in his blog that “the right to strike, in article 28.2 of the Spanish Constitution, it is a fundamental right for public liberty, with supposed greater protection. It is a relief for all that this penal text, which punished those who coerced other people to start or continue a strike with prison sentences of up to three years and with fines of up to 24 months, has finally been repealed in Congress ».
«During these years we have seen that the term ‘coercion’ has given rise to a broad interpretation of the crime: this has caused non-violent behaviors have been prosecuted in criminal proceedings. That working people who only defended their rights and those of their colleagues have been oppressed in unfair, uncertain and interminable criminal proceedings.