To strike is no crime – we will not be silenced…

ccoo-lola-villalba-and-gonzalo-fuentes-of-CCOO-Malaga-al-frente-del-sindicato-de-turismo-de-malagaUNI Global Union is delighted that Lola Villalba, the General Secretary of the CCOO Services Union of Malaga, and Gonzalo Fuentes, a member of the regional executive committee of the Services Union (both pictured left) have been acquitted. They faced charges relating to their actions on the picket line during a general strike in November 2012.

UNI ran a social media campaign, including a petition signed by hundreds, aiming to get 300 Spanish trade unionists absolved of charges relating to the right to strike.

Last November UNI’s Spanish affiliates, the CCOO and UGT, received the UNI Global Union Freedom from Fear award in recognition of their courage in the face of repression and support of their campaign for justice and an amnesty.

The UNI Global Union World Executive Board endorsed a statement rejecting the Spanish government’s policy and repressive laws restricting labour rights and citizen’s basic freedoms and calling for international solidarity.

Lola Villalba was one of two women who accepted the award, the other was also from the CCOO, Katiana Vicens. She is among hundreds of other Spanish union leaders who still face long prison sentences simply for carrying out their democratic right protest.

UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings said, “The acquittal of Lola and Gonzalo is a recognition by the Malaga court of the right to strike. Many others like Katiana are still in limbo. The fight goes on and UNI’s 20 million members stand in solidarity with our Spanish brothers and sisters. This attack on the Spanish unions is symptomatic of a wave of anti-union measures being touted by right wing governments from the UK to Finland. We will follow the example of our Spanish unions and not give in.”

CCOO commented, “The right to strike is anchored in our constitution and that article 315 of the criminal code should not be used as an instrument to curtail that right. The court, by acquitting the two accused, recognized the right to strike. It also accepted that pickets were entitled to publicise the strike and to ask workers to participate. The actions undertaken by Lola and Gonzalo complied with the right to strike guaranteed under the constitution. The court further held that at no moment was there any form of coercion. We hope that the court will also find in favour of the other brothers and sisters who have been charged and who are still awaiting trial. Lola said that it had been difficult to wait for so long before she was absolved of any crime and her innocence recognised. It has now been demonstrated that striking is not a crime but rather a right. The ruling shows that there is no need to be afraid and that it is important to demand that workers’ labour rights and their right to strike be upheld.”

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Gary Herman

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