Samsung to speak out on ex-workers with cancer

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Samsung to speak out on ex-workers with cancer

Samsung Electronics will announce its stance soon on the claims of an industrial accident by the bereaved families of former Samsung employees who died of leukemia, the company said yesterday.

It will be Samsung’s first public statement on the issue, which surfaced in part due to documentaries that painted the work environment at the company as a trigger for leukemia.

The move comes after a press conference last week by Sim Sang-jeung, a senior lawmaker of the labor-friendly Justice Party, at which she called for the world’s largest memory chipmaker to apologize for the leukemia-related deaths at the company and compensate the families of the victims.

“Samsung Electronics has received the proposal by the Rev. Sim Sang-jeung and the bereaved families and is reviewing the proposal in earnest,” said Kim Joon-sik, an executive vice president of Samsung Electronics. “The executives of Samsung Electronics will announce an official position on this proposal in several days.”

Since the early 2000s, 13 Samsung employees, most working at semiconductor plants, have filed 10 lawsuits against Samsung over what they claimed to be the breakout of work-related leukemia.

The employees or their families have claimed that they contracted the disease after being exposed to a hazardous work environment at Samsung, with few precautions or preventive measures taken by the company.

According to the labor union for workers of Samsung’s semiconductor division Banolim, a former worker at Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor plant, died from leukemia in May, bringing the total to 73 workers, including employees at Samsung Electro-Mechanics who lost their lives out of 193 who reported that they were suffering from the disease.

“We are coordinating disagreements with Samsung via email, but not much progress has been made in the negotiation,” said a spokesman for Banolim. “We’ll wait and see the official stance of Samsung Electronics.”

The issue drew the public’s attention in 2007 when a female worker at Samsung Electronics’ Giheung semiconductor plant in Gyeonggi, Hwang Yu-mi, died of acute leukemia.

In November, that year, Banolim, a task force to secure basic labor rights and to determine the truth about leukemia was established and legal battles followed.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]



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