"KIM IL SUNG and WFTU"
The Guardian of Our WFTU
(Written by Alexander Zharikov,
General Secretary of WFTU)
The former Soviet Union and east European socialist countries fell down with the "perestroika" after a period of degeneration.
In the midst of the great turbulence I was elected the Secretary General of the WFTU to face the unprecedented difficulties.
Some member organizations of east European countries went out of the WFTU and some others insisted that the WFTU should not be too much political or ideological and that it should be changed according to the circumstances to be a consultant body and deal with simple matters like labour conditions and ordinary life.
The imperialists and even some unions declared the "collapse of WFTU" and the Czech authority pressed the Secretariat to leave Prague. Some members of the Secretariat began to feel uncertain of what to do.
The WFTU seemed like a wrecked ship in the violent ocean. Many of us were helpless at the tragic situation.
Our Federation had set sail in the 1940s with purpose of strengthening solidarity and cooperation among different trade unions of the world in their struggle for labour interests, rights and freedom, peace and security. It had strived for decades for anti-imperialism and unity, but now faced quite unusual storms in the last decade of 20th century.
My earnest wish to meet President Kim Il Sung was realized on March 22, 1992.
The President was very busy then, but he called me personally, saying that he had met all the successive General Secretaries on their visit to Korea and that I should not be an exception.
Just like meeting a familiar friend, the President shook my hands warmly and asked about my health. He offered me a seat and told me that he understood my difficult job as a General Secretary at the hardest time.
I said I took it a great honor to meet President Kim Il Sung, the matchless hero and great man of our time. I told him about difficulties of WFTU's work.
Nodding at times, the President listened carefully to the story and said that we should not lose hope but protect the WFTU from any hardships and taught us how to maintain its existence.
He said that in the current conditions we should uphold the banner of independence to please everyone, with slogans such as "Let us build a self-sustaining national economy to live well on our own", "Let us fight against subjugation to others", and "Let us struggle for sovereignty, independence and peace."
I fully agreed with him, with the understanding of the significance of independence.
The slogan of independence was the only way to success and maintenance for the WFTU in conformity with the present main trend towards independence.
The great President continued to tell us the best ways to protect our Federation.
He said that it would be good for us to sponsor a world congress of trade unions with the banner of independence to involve many other unions in a new type work, that the WFTU's power was still strong, that we should not retreat but counter-attack to give the people not sadness but confidence, that we should continue our struggle to the last day of stay in Prague, and that we could win in the end for sure.
The President's teachings were the announcement of truth that give-up or retreat in the struggle against enemies would lead to death, and direct attack in the face would bring us victory. With this truth I returned to Prague, full of energy and self-confidence.
We were rearranging our Federation under the banner of independence, which led to the new enrolment of big unions including the General Federation of Brazilian Workers and the return of the former member unions of east European countries.
We also sped up the preparations to hold a world congress of trade unions on a large scale as the President told us.
Out of the ever-growing wish to see President Kim Il Sung, I visited Korea again in April of 1994 to congratulate him with best wishes on the occasion of his 82nd birthday. Received by the President himself at a banquet, I wished him a long life in good health on behalf of the entire working people and informed him of the successes in the WFTU' work.
The President said that he was very pleased to hear from the General Secretary of the WFTU, that the Federation would be surely victorious in its counter-attack against reactionary forces under the banner of independence, that his life was full of victory with direct counter-attack, and that in Korea the trade unions were led by Comrade Kim Jong Il. He encouraged us to struggle hand in hand with the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea.
I had no idea that this was the very last meeting with the great President.
Two months later, in July, I heard sad news like a bolt from the blue that the President passed away all of a sudden.
I felt an unspeakable pain in the heart. And I took it my obligation to carry out the President's behest more vigorously.
It resulted in the 13th Congress of the WFTU in Damascus in October of 1994, where the voices for independence of the world reverberated through the conference hall. The Congress marked an important occasion to turn a new leaf in the international movement of trade unions.
It was a big blow to the reactionary forces and since then the Czech authority has not told us to go out any more.
On the orbit of advance, the WFTU held another Congress, the 14th Congress, in New Delhi in March of 2000 to demonstrate its strength with banner of independence.
(To be continued)