Samsung Electronics issues apology for factory cancer cases
New Delhi: Samsung Electronics apologised on Friday to workers who developed cancer after working at its semiconductor factories, ending a decade-long dispute at the world's top chipmaker. "We sincerely apologise to the workers who suffered from illness and their families," said Samsung co-president Kim Ki-nam.
"We have failed to properly manage health risks at our semiconductor and LCD factories." Campaign groups say that 320 people have suffered from work-related illnesses after being employed by Samsung, with 118 of them dying.
Under a deal announced earlier this month, the firm will pay compensation of up to 150 million won (USD 133,000) per case.
It covers 16 types of cancer, some other rare illnesses, miscarriages and congenital diseases suffered by the workers' children.
The scandal emerged in 2007 when former workers at its semiconductor and display factories in Suwon, south of Seoul, and their families said that staff had been diagnosed or died of various forms of cancer.
A series of rulings and decisions by courts, Seoul's state labour welfare agency and a mediation committee followed over more than 10 years, culminating in Friday's announcement.
Relatives' leader Hwang Sang-gi, whose 22-year-old son died of leukaemia, said on Friday: "The apology honestly was not enough for the families of the victims but we will accept it."
Hwang Sang-ki, the founder of Sharps and father of a dead chip factory worker with leukaemia, told Reuters that besides those 200 he expected more workers to apply for compensation, but it would take a long medical process to prove their diseases are directly related to the work environment.
South Korean activist group Sharps claims around 200 workers have fallen ill after working at Samsung plants and 70 of them have died subsequently.
“Our effort was insufficient to better understand the pain affected workers and their families went through,” Samsung Electronics Chief Executive Kim Ki-nam said in a public apology during an event to sign the agreement with the advocacy group, reports Reuters.
Kim said the company would post its compensation guidelines along with an apology letter by at the end of this month on the company’s website and an independent Seoul-based law firm will conduct the review process for affected workers for their compensation eligibility.
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