Samsung begins compensation talks with sick factory workers

Samsung begins compensation talks with sick factory workers

Summary: South Korean giant initiates talks, which will begin in coming months, with local advocacy group supporting former employees who have contracted leukemia and other work-related diseases at Samsung plants.

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Samsung Electronics is beginning compensation talks with The Supporters for the Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry (SHARPS), an advocacy group for former employees who have reportedly suffered from leukemia and other sicknesses during their time at the South Korean company.

Yonhap News Agency reported on Tuesday that SHARPS had accepted Samsung's proposal for compensation talks following a dispute that has spanned some six years. The South Korean giant has been mired in the dispute following the deaths of its semiconductor workers who were diagnosed with leukemia and other workplace diseases, it noted.

"We formally accept Samsung's proposal to start negotiations on compensation. SHARPS will be committed to resolving and preventing the occupational disease issue, and hopes Samsung Electronics will also take a responsible stance in the talks," the advocacy group said in the report.

It also noted that officials at Samsung and SHARPS are expected to begin talks in the coming months, and the group will consult with the workers' families before making future decisions. A total of 160 alleged victims--including 60 deaths--relating to Samsung as of 2012 have been reported, SHARPS said in the report.

According to its Web site, SHARPS is composed of independent labor unions, human right groups, occupational safety and health groups, progressive political parties, and workers' organizations. Its goals are "to reveal the truth about the health and workers' rights conditions in the electronics industry and in Samsung," and "to achieve workers' fundamental rights in Samsung," among others.

Samsung has been maintaining the stance of refuting reports showing a meaningful correlation between the development of diseases and working in its plants. In July 2011, it engaged U.S. consulting firm Environ International to look into several such cases, and the latter subsequently announced that no link was found between cancer and its chip manufacturing plants, Yonhap noted.

The company did introduce a program that offers 10 years of aid for employees who are diagnosed with cancer within three years after leaving their jobs at the company's processor and liquid-crystal display (LCD) factories, it added.

ZDNet Asia has gotten in touch with Samsung Electronics, and will update this report accordingly.

Samsung had earlier committed to correct inadequate labor practices at its Chinese factories, following allegations from China Labor Watch that the company employs and abuses underage workers.

Its internal audit found no such abuse, but it did say that it will address issues such as overtime hours in excess of local regulations, supplier companies withholding labor contracts from workers, and the imposition of a fine system for being late or absent from work.

Topics: Tech Industry, Processors, Samsung, IT Employment

Kevin Kwang

About Kevin Kwang

A Singapore-based freelance IT writer, Kevin made the move from custom publishing focusing on travel and lifestyle to the ever-changing, jargon-filled world of IT and biz tech reporting, and considered this somewhat a leap of faith. Since then, he has covered a myriad of beats including security, mobile communications, and cloud computing.

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2 comments
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  • Shame on you, Samsung.

    "Beginning" the "talk" now? The "talk," not even the actual "compensation," should have taken place 4 or 5 years ago. Samsung is talking now only because it has been made a serious social issue in Korea. Talking about overtime in China? Well in Korea, overtime is expected for a Samsung employee even before they begin to work.

    In Korea, Samsung is also well known for entering the markets by copying products or services and killing off smaller companies that invented the product or service. Easily put, some inventive people open the market, and Samsung enters with something very similar and backed with its very own ability to mass-market. (Samsung owns other companies, and the "Samsung Group" has massive powers everywhere in Korea.) The original company that have opened the market eventually dies because it cannot compete with Samsung's marketing.

    Patent and other stuff? When Samsung spends so much money defending itself, lawyers can do a lot. And the competition would die out anyway before the court makes a judgment. Apple-Samsung trial is nothing other than an extension of such activity. Samsung did to Apple what it does to smaller companies in Korea, and Apple decided not to just sit around and have itself attacked.

    Careless about its victims of its operation within Korea, yet afraid to have its image disgraced abroad? Shameless and opportunistic, many know Samsung will do anything to pursue money and not to lose it. Law or ethics doesn't mean much to Samsung. Money is its law and its ethic. Human rights, better world or simply what is right and fair have never been a concern for this company.

    Samsung is also in a law suit with LG in Korea over a refrigerator commercial, and it is energentically copying Sony cameras today.
    Jae K Oh
    • Samsung Practices...

      You forgot to add how they hire contracting companies to develop devices for them, only to change the terms of the contract - demand many meetings - and practically bankrupt those contracted companies to get the designs finished. But like you said, Samsung hold a lot of sway in Korea. I remember working with their handset division in Kumi, S Korea for one of their contractors. From 2001-2007 there wasn't a year where a government official didn't have to step down for illegally helping out Samsung with money/taxes/or legislation.
      krustykanuck