Striking is not a crime
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Mariano Rajoy, President of Spain
Ministry of Justice
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Dear Prime Minister, I wish to express my full solidarity with the Spanish trade unions CCOO and UGT in their struggle to defend the right to strike. As part of their campaign “Striking is not a crime” (Huelga no es delito) they have denounced the government’s attempts to criminalise the actions of over 300 trade unionists and workers carried out in defence of labour and social rights in Spain. Of these, there are five workers employed by Arecelor in the province of Asturias who, after appealing against their conviction which adds up to over 21 years in prison, are now engaged in various actions to mobilize workers. The public prosecutor has asked the court to sentence a further 8 workers who are employed by Airbus in Madrid to a total of 64 years in prison. It has become quite clear that the intent is to curtail the fundamental rights that are recognized in the Spanish Constitution, particularly the right to strike. In order to achieve this, the authorities are invoking article 315.3 of the Criminal Code. Repealing this article is a democratic imperative. We have learned that a bill has been submitted to Congress and the Senate to reform the Criminal Code and the Public Safety Act. If adopted, this would represent a further curtailment of fundamental rights since more restrictions would then be imposed on the exercise of democratic rights and civil liberties. It also represents a further assault on the right to strike which has led to the prosecution of several workers and trade union representatives who are fighting for the collective defence of their rights. We agree with UGT and CCOO that this reform is ideologically driven and has only one objective: to restrict democratic freedoms in order to quell social protest and prevent the exercise of rights which your government opposes. We would like to remind you that the right to strike is a fundamental human right and is indispensible to the exercise of the right of association and the right of assembly and demonstration. These are now threatened by your reforms. To criminalize such rights goes against the democratic system enshrined in the Spanish Constitution and is in contradiction with the principle of democracy which the government claims to uphold. For all these reasons, Mr Prime Minister, we support CCOO and UGT and ask you to take the necessary measures to repeal the third paragraph of article 315 of the Criminal Code and to withdraw your bill to modify the Public Safety Act.
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