Oxy’s victim discrimination
“Oxy has sent text messages that the company would meet with the victims for an official apology and explain its compensation plan on May 20. But the Level 3 and 4 victims haven’t heard from them. The company is trying to only apologize to the Level 1 and 2 victims.”
Oxy has announced that it would limit compensation to the victims who have been classified by the Korean government as Level 1 and Level 2. Therefore, Level 3 and 4 victims, including Park, did not receive notification concerning the meeting schedule for the official apology and compensation plan.
The official apology, scheduled for May 20, is the first meeting between Oxy and the victims. However, the Level 3 and 4 victims, who did not get the text message are hurt once again.
The government classified the victims of the harmful humidifier sterilizer into four groups in 2014. Level 1 victims are the one whose lung damage had an “almost clear” causal relation with sterilizer use, and Level 2 victims are the ones with “highly possible” causal relation. The Level 3 and 4 victims suffer from other conditions, but because no lung damage was confirmed, they were excluded from government assistance for medical and funeral expenses.
Experts say that determining the health effect of humidifier sterilizers based on lung damage was not sufficient. Recently, the Ministry of Environment announced a plan to operate a subcommittee to review diseases other than lung damage as a result of the use of humidifier sterilizers.
However, the classification system that the government came up with two years ago, without basing it on sufficient investigation, subsequently resulted in the victims being categorized that way. Oxy sent text messages selectively based on this classification.
With regard to Oxy’s “selective” apology and compensation plan, victims’ advocacy group head Kang Chan-ho is concerned that Oxy has called forth selective victims in order to reach an agreement. And in fact, Oxy is not allowing media coverage of the official meeting.
On the Internet, the Oxy Out boycott movement is making steady progress. If Oxy refuses to cancel its plan to call victims forward selectively and host a closed-door meeting, consumers’ fury will not likely subside.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 19, Page 33
*The author is a national news reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.