End to article 315.3 of the Penal Code, which penalizes pickets in strikes with prison terms and for which some 300 people have been prosecuted in recent years in Spain, according to the unions. The repeal of this specific crime of coercion in strikes, which has been endorsed by the majority of the Senate this morning, is a union demand that intensified in the last decade with the campaign 'the strike is not a crime', when the prosecution - during the mandate of Mariano Rajoy - began to use this legal precept to ask for high prison terms in the mobilizations of workers during the last economic crisis.
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Although there is a generic offense that criminalizes coercion (172), Article 315.3 specifically addresses coercion "other people to start or continue a strike", which can be punished with up to three years in prison. The unions have constantly demanded its elimination because they denounce that in practice it has been applied to prosecute the legitimate action of the pickets in strikes and, ultimately, to limit the fundamental right to strike.
"It is a great day for the working class," José Alcázar, one of the trade unionists prosecuted for this specific crime in the possibly best-known case, summed up to elDiario.es. The Airbus Eight. Alcázar, of CCOO and president at that time of the Intercentros committee, with 60 years faced with the rest of the defendants the request of eight years in prison each. Later, as in the vast majority of court cases, Alcázar and the rest of his companions were acquitted. "We are indebted to society and all the institutions that have supported us throughout this process. Today there is more democracy and freedom in this country," concludes the union member.
"Throughout the day I have not stopped coming images of 2012, of the arrest, the trial ... possibly the worst year of my life," said Rubén Ranz, a UGT trade unionist this morning that He was also prosecuted for this crime and faced a request for 7 years in prison. "Today we have managed to overturn this, to show that it was possible and that it is achieved with a left-wing government," he added to this medium.
The Senate has finally endorsed this Thursday by 139 votes in favor, 106 against and 14 abstentions the repeal of article 315.3 of the Penal Code, which has reached the Upper House after The majority of the Congress of Deputies will support the bill of the PSOE presented for this purpose. Alcázar and Ranz were witnesses in the 'henhouse' of the Upper House, along with Unai Sordo, CCOO leader, and Cristina Antoñanzas, UGT deputy secretary general, among other union representatives present.
PP and VOX have tried to veto the repeal
As happened in Parliament, the rights have taken a position against the elimination of this specific crime against coercion in strikes, especially PP and VOX. Both parties presented two vetoes in the Upper House to try to maintain this aggravated crime in strikes. The 'popular' group wanted to keep the text as it was, while the far-right party led by Santiago Abascal proposed to toughen the criminal punishment for these coercions. Ciudadanos, although it has not presented a veto, has also positioned itself against the deletion of this article. Finally, the vetoes have not been endorsed by the plenary session and the majority of the Upper House has put an end to this article of the Penal Code.
Senator María Hernández Espinal, of the PSOE, has defended the elimination of this specific crime of coercion in strikes, which she has highlighted as "extraordinarily harsh", typical of the preconstitutional right and limiting of a fundamental right such as the strike. The socialist senator has explained that the repeal of article 315.3 does not generate "any defenselessness", since in the event of punishable coercion of workers to support a strike, there is the generic crime of coercion in article 172 of the Penal Code.
This point is controversial, and it is what has mainly led the PNV to abstain from voting, explained Senator Imanol Landa Jáuregui. Because, although the Basque nationalists have highlighted that article 315.3 is "questionable" for its use against labor mobilizations, Landa Jáuregui has argued that its suppression may produce a "boomerang effect", since article 172 may imply greater penalties and sanctions for the defendants.
Cristina Ayala Santamaría, a PP senator, has warned of this, addressing directly the trade unionists present in the Senate Plenary. The repeal "is only going to cause the toughening of sanctions," said the 'popular' representative. "It is a threat if they return to the government," laments the unionist Rubén Ranz, from the UGT, who criticizes that "the PP has never understood the right to strike and it is seen in these statements."
The Minister of Justice, Juan Carlos Campo, has celebrated "the lively debate" and the result of the initiative presented by the socialist group. "We can never articulate regulations that discourage the enjoyment of a fundamental right, such as the right to strike," he stressed. For his part, the senator of the PSOE and former number two of the UGT, Toni Ferrer, has celebrated that the end of this article has arrived "on April 14", the Day on which the Second Spanish Republic is commemorated, in which it has call to defend freedom of association and strike, both fundamental rights recognized in the Constitution.