[THE INVESTOR] Tech giant Samsung Electronics on Nov. 23 vowed to compensate its former and current workers who have contracted deadly diseases, including cancer and leukemia.
The latest move is part of its efforts to put an end to the thorny workplace health issue that plagued the world’s largest chipmaker for more than a decade.
The pledge came after it reached a final agreement with Banolim, a group of activists that supports the ill Samsung workers.
Samsung consents to conclusive arbitration on leukemia victims' dispute
While vowing to accept all the demands of the activist group with no strings attached, Samsung apologized to the victims and their families.
“Samsung has not made enough efforts to take care of the sick employees and their families and to solve the issue in a swift manner,” said Kim Ki-nam, CEO of the tech firm’s semiconductor division, at a press conference held with the civic group in Seoul.
“I sincerely apologize to those who have suffered from diseases and their families.”
Samsung and Banolim recently returned to the table for negotiations mediated by former Supreme Court Justice Kim Ji-hyung after years of stalled talks and disagreements.
The so-called leukemia scandal first surfaced when Hwang Yu-mi, who worked at one of Samsung’s chip manufacturing lines in Korea, died of leukemia in 2007. Filing lawsuits against the tech giant, her father Hwang Sang-ki has long held demonstrations individually and with his supporters in front of Samsung’s Seoul headquarters.
Banolim claims some 200 Samsung workers have fallen ill after working at its manufacturing lines.
Speaking at the press conference, Hwang, who leads the activist group, urged the tech giant and its affiliates, including Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung SDS and Samsung SDI, to come up with compensation schemes for victims of work-related diseases here and abroad.
Under the agreement, Samsung will offer up to 150 million won (US$132,602) although the amount of monetary compensation will vary depending on various factors, including seriousness of the disease and length of employment.
All current and retired Samsung employees who have suffered work-related illnesses after working at the firm’s semiconductor and LCD manufacturing lines for a year or longer since May 17, 1984, are eligible for compensation.
Samsung had launched its first semiconductor line at the time.
The agreement will be effective until Oct. 31, 2028, and the two sides have agreed to decide whether to extend the period in the cited year.
Samsung also said it would form a 50-billion-won fund that will be used to strengthen safety measures for workers in the nation.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)