Sato's Address for KHMU 10th Anniversary
Ms. Hong Myung-ok, President of KHMU, and brothers and sisters of KHMU, good morning. My name is Katsuhiko Sato, Regional Secretary of the PSI Asia Pacific office. Thank you very much for inviting me for this celebration of the 10th anniversary of KHMU as the industrial federation.
I have had contact with health and medical workers of Korea since the time of KFHTU before KHMU was formed. Therefore, I think I have met many of you throughout these years even though I may not be able to remember all your names. Although I do not know the detailed process of how KHMU came into being as an industrial federation, I am certain that there has been a great deal of serious debates among the stakeholders, which has provided the organizational energy to KHMU as it stands today.
I understand very well how important and essential an industrial federation is for the present trade union movement because I come from the country where most unions are still enterprise unions which have limitations and are fraught with vulnerability.
In the present world where globalisation is sweeping, people, goods, money and information are moving around with an unprecedented speed. And if trade unions still narrowly focus on clinging to the old organizational set-up in such a world, it will definitely be difficult to effectively face the management and governments. Public service is being privatised, irregular workers and migrant workers are on the increase, while labour laws are being deregulated and the declining birthrate and aging populations are taking place in many societies. Amid these changes, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing to a level which we have not seen before. At the same time, workers are forced into excessive competition as a result of market supremacy, which leads to a deterioration of wages and working conditions and increases the number of occupational accidents.
If trade unions are absorbed only in the old way of thinking and organizational philosophy, how can we hold back such an undesirable trend and create instead a society where all working people can take up a job with pride as well as a sense of security. KHMU has realised this before others and has made a brave decision to take a new step forward. I would like to pay tribute to KHMU’s bold decision.
I am sure that the past decade was certainly not an easy time, but your achievement proves that your decision was right. A trade union is a living organism, and, in that sense, is similar to a human. What I mean is that we human beings tend to take an easier way when faced with a turning point in our life. But I do believe that the harder way eventually shows us the truth.
PSI has turned 100 years last August and held the 100th anniversary conference in Vienna in September. At that conference, Mr. Peter Waldorff was elected as the new General Secretary and the five-year guideline entitled “global policy and the strategic objectives” has been adopted. In a way, PSI is at a major crossroad, and your movement, KHMU, is now showing a positive light towards the direction PSI should take. Let’s work together to make this light even brighter than it is now.
I would like to offer my heart-felt congratulations to all the delegates at this conference as well as those KHMU members who are at their work and unions on the 10th anniversary of KHMU as an industrial federation. Let’s continue our march forward together with all the members of PSI worldwide. Thank you very much.
Sato Katsuhiko (PSI-AP regional secretary)