A vast majority of the Congress of Deputies has turned their back on the Popular Party and Vox in their attempt to maintain or toughen the article of the Penal Code that punishes pickets in strikes with jail. The two parties on the parliamentary right had registered amendments to the whole of the PSOE bill to end this article, 351.3 of the Penal Code, but they have not been endorsed by the Chamber. The extreme right of Vox even wanted to extend the jail terms, up to four and a half years.
Double judicial standards: prison sentences to pickets, sanctions to the employer who does not allow a strike
The parties led by Pablo Casado and Santiago Abascal tried to prevent the legislative work in Congress to repeal this article, after On October 27, most of the parties will support a bill of the socialist group which includes the suppression of this section of the Penal Code and the revision of the final sentences issued in accordance with this legislation. After the failure of their initiatives, the legislative process to eliminate this specific crime in strikes continues, which will be addressed in the Justice Commission of Congress.
The elimination of section 3 of article 315 of the Penal Code is a constant demand of the unions, which estimate that some 300 people – a large part of them trade unionists – have been prosecuted under this precept for their participation in strikes and pickets. One of their main complaints was the “persecution” of the Prosecutor’s Office of this crime during the stage of the Government of Mariano Rajoy, which they considered a form of repression of the right to strike.
The article in question establishes a special type of crime for the coercion of strikes. Specifically, it establishes: “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 a prison sentence of one year and nine months up to three years or with the penalty of a fine of eighteen months to twenty-four months “.
Vox wanted to extend the years in prison
The PP amendment proposed to recover in the initiative the current wording of article 315.3, but the one defended by Vox tried to harden the crime with more years in prison. The far-right party intended to preserve this article by hardening the punishment, with minimum prison terms of two and a half years, which could go up to four and a half years. Specifically, the contemplated prison sentences range from two years and six months to four years and six months, while the fines were reduced, to place them between 12 to 18 months.
The person in charge of defending the Vox amendment, deputy Juan José Aizcorbe Torra, has considered that this specific crime must be maintained to stop “the perverse class struggles that socialism encourages” and that, in his opinion, gives wings to “pervert and instrumentalize the right to strike, for perverse purposes, such as the alteration of public order and the attack on other fundamental rights “. His initiative has only obtained 54 votes in favor of the 350 in the Lower House, without even getting a vote in favor of the PP.
On the other hand, the Popular Party amendment has been supported by the vote in favor of Vox, but it has been a long way from going forward. It has obtained 142 votes in favor, 8 abstentions and 195 ‘no’. Deputy Miguel Ángel Jerez has been responsible for defending the Casado amendment, which has been based on equating the repeal of article 315.3 of the Penal Code to total impunity for coercion and threats during a strike.
Several deputies, such as the parliamentarian Mikel Legarda Uriarte (PNV), have spoiled this argument for the PP, since coercion and threats in a picket would continue to be a crime with the suppression of article 315.3, since there is a general type that pursues these attitudes. They simply would not be punished with a specific crime for the context of the strike.