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Spain: thousands join march against trade unionist trial

9 February, 2016An estimated 5,000 people braved the wind and rain on a three-hour march in Madrid on 9 February to protest against the trial of eight trade unionists facing a total 66 years in prison for going on strike.

The eight workers, who belong to IndustriALL Global Union affiliates, CC.OO de Industria and MCA-UGT, were charged after joining a picket at the gates of Airbus in Getafe, in the Madrid suburbs, as part of a general strike on 29 September 2010.

As the trial began today, IndustriALL joined Spanish unions, as well as industriAll Europe and members of Airbus unions in Belgium and France, in the lively march to the Getafe courts in support of the ‘Airbus 8’.

It is the first of a series of demonstrations planned for the four-day trial, which is set to conclude on Friday.

The severity of the punishment proposed by the prosecutor, at eight years and three months for each worker, is being condemned as an attack by Spanish authorities on trade unions and the right to strike.

The eight trade unionists, Tomás García, Enrique Gil, Rodolfo Malo, José Alcazar, Raúl Fernández, Armando Barco, Jerónimo Martín and Edgar Martín, have all been charged under Article 315.3 of the Spanish Penal Code, which allows for prison sentences for picketing trade unionists.

More than 300 trade unionists are currently facing prison in Spain under the same law, which until recently, was reportely last used under General Franco's dictatorship.

IndustriALL’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina, said:

“It is beyond belief that Spain is resorting to antiquated and oppressive legislation to imprison workers for exercising their fundamental right to strike. The attempts by Spanish authorities to silence trade unions and intimidate workers are a sad step backwards for democracy.”  

The eight defendants had joined several hundred workers outside the Airbus who were protesting against austerity measures and changes to the labour code as part of a general strike in Spain. The peaceful protest ended in panic after riot police fired shots into the air and people rushed for shelter with several people becoming injured. The eight men strongly deny the charges of ‘acting with violence’ and ‘attacking the right to work’.

Today’s march was led by the general secretary of Spanish confederation CCOO, Ignacio Fernández Toxo and Cándido Mendez, general secretary of the UGT confederation. The demonstration coincided with a strong social media campaign saying “To strike is not a crime” (#LaHuelgaNoEsDelita) and “They are not 8, we are thousands” (No son 8, somos miles).