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(en) Spaine, CNT: Trade unionism is not a crime: For the immediate acquittal of Las Seis de La Suiza (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 26 Sep 2022 10:38:11 +0300

The CNT calls a demonstration at the state level on September 24 in Madrid to denounce a ruling that criminalizes union tools for the defense of women workers. ---- The sentence to Las Seis de La Suiza de Xixón/Gijón condemns the trade unionists to prison for the exercise of trade union action, legitimate social protest and freedom of expression. ---- The CNT calls on all citizens and the social, neighborhood and trade union fabric of all the cities and towns of the State to assume as their own the defense of Las Seis de La Suiza. ---- The CNT has convened at the state level for next September 24 (12:30 p.m., in front of the Ministry of Justice) the holding of a large demonstration that will demand the immediate acquittal of the six trade unionists sentenced to prison terms for the lawful exercise of union action in the context of the conflict between the union and the company La Suiza de Gijón/Xixón.

The march will take place under the slogan "Trade unionism is not a crime", in the face of a sentence that, in fact, makes it impossible to exercise trade union action and seriously curtails civil rights such as freedom of expression and demonstration. The CNT is confident that the demonstration will be massive and will bring together all those organizations, groups and people who feel solidarity with the convicted people, and committed to the repressive blow that their persecution and conviction entails.

A direct attack on the tools of trade union struggle and social protest
Six CNT Asturias comrades have been sentenced to three and a half years in prison for "serious coercion" and "obstruction of justice", as well as payment of a fine of 150,000 euros. The absolutely absurd sentence is a direct attack on the union tools that the law itself includes for the defense of female workers. An attack that criminalizes the traditional forms of social and trade union protest and that comes at a time when a "hot autumn" is announced in the face of the economic crisis, inflation and the worsening of the living conditions of the working class.

From CNT we consider the judicial sentences issued against our colleagues as a frontal attack on our way of understanding union action, understood as a direct, unmediated, public and firm defense of the workers against the abuses of the bosses. But we believe that in addition, the seriousness of the sentences, which if carried out, would lead our compañeras to prison, is a direct attack on grassroots and combative trade unionism as a whole and on any form of social protest that continues to bet on the presence in the street as a way of defending rights.

For all these reasons, we encourage and call on the entire working class and citizens in general to demonstrate in Madrid next Saturday, September 24 at 12:30 p.m. in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice (C/ San Bernardo, 45) to show rejection of this judicial conviction and to show support for the compañeras threatened with imprisonment.

About the Switzerland case
To find the origin of the conflict we have to go back to 2017, when a worker at the La Suiza pastry shop in Gijón/Xixón turned to our union for advice and support in a situation of employer abuse and harassment, with the non-payment of around 80 overtime hours per month, the impossibility of taking vacations and excessive workloads during the worker's pregnancy, which translated into a risk of abortion that led to the corresponding medical leave. Along with all these abuses, the colleague denounced unbearable treatment by the employer, which included humiliating comments and opinions about her body.

Already with the support of CNT Xixón, the union began by trying to hold a meeting with the businessman from La Suiza to address the situation and try to resolve it through dialogue, something the employer refused.

Faced with this situation, the CNT decided to make the conflict public through the May Day rally and through social networks. As a result of this information campaign, the employer agreed to meet with the union, but refused to reach any agreement.

Thus, from CNT Xixón a series of concentrations are carried out outside the pastry shop and an information campaign on the open conflict between the company and the worker. In other words, the trade union tools available to us are used to defend the rights of the affected worker. It should be noted that all these actions are carried out firmly in defense of our colleague but without police intervention.
Despite the "normality" of the protest actions, police identifications of different CNT Xixón comrades began to take place and, finally, several arrests were made and the corresponding complaints were processed.

The consequent judicial process opens with the attempt to charge thirty people, members of the union, but also other people who had come to support the La Suiza worker. Eight people were ultimately charged.

The worker affected in the original conflict also files a complaint for sexual harassment, which is filed before the judicial justification of not having sufficient burden of proof.

Finally, the Criminal Court number 1 of Xixón/Gijón, in a sentence issued in June 2021, sentenced the eight activists prosecuted to a total of 25.3 years in prison: three and a half years in prison for 7 of them and 8 months for another, for the crimes of coercion and obstruction of justice. In addition, the sentence establishes compensation for the La Suiza pastry shop of 150,428 euros, declaring the CNT union as subsidiary civil liability.

This past spring, and after an appeal filed by the legal team of the CNT, the Superior Court of Justice of Asturias has ratified the prison sentence for six of the eight trade unionists convicted in the case of 'La Suiza'.

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