Freedom from Fear Award: UNI’s Spanish affiliates CCOO & UGT stand up to oppression

Wednesday 18 November 2015

More than 300 Spanish unionists facing prison for exercising their democratic rights – UNI Global Union family united in solidarity

UNI’s Spanish affiliates the CCOO and UGT have 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. More than 300 Spanish unionists are facing prison sentences for exercising their democratic right to protest.

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.

The award was accepted by two women who face long prison sentences simply for carrying out their democratic rights as unionists, the FSC-CCOO’s Dolores (Lola) Villalba and Katiana Vicens. Also at the World Executive Board to receive the award were the FES-UGT’s José Antonio Gracia Guerrera and the FSP-UGT’s José Manuel Sayagués.

Gracia Guerrera said, “This award shines a light on the injustice we are facing from our government through its policy of cuts and austerity – any protest against it is treated as a criminal act. International support vital for our cause through UNI is vital. Our message to the Spanish government is we are not giving up.”

Lola Villalba, who is the General Secretary of the Services Federation of Malaga, faces three years and six month for taking part in industrial action said, “We need your support. We are being criminalized. These are gag laws where we have no right to strike and where our civil rights are being cut back.

“I’m not frightened about prison – if I have to go I will go. We will continue to fight. Striking is not a crime it is a right,” Villalba stated.

Katiana Vicens, the General Secretary of the Balearic Islands Services Federation faces a 4 year sentence, accused of preventing a worker getting into work on strike day.

Vicens said, “We must stand together and hold on to the right to strike. These attacks on labour rights are not confined to Spain – and we must not give in.

We accept this award on behalf of all who are facing criminal charges for standing up to these unfair anti-union laws.”

Sayagués said, “These women’s stories are not isolated incidents in our country – there are more than 300 similar stories. We must continue to increase international solidarity and we call on everyone to mobilise against these draconian laws. We must defend our hard fought for rights because without them there can be no democracy.”

UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings, presenting the Freedom from Fear Award to the Spanish unions said, “We stand with them in solidarity. We cannot allow democratic space to be closed down in Spain and in all the other countries where it is in jeopardy, notably Finland and the UK. We are inspired by the courage shown by Lola and Katiana and will follow their example in our fight back against this new wave of anti-union laws.”

There will be a further call to action announced shortly.