Samsung Electronics has issued an apology to workers who had developed cancer because of working at its semiconductor factories. This puts an end to a decade-long dispute at the world’s biggest chipmaker.
Samsung Electronics co-president Kim Ki-nam said in a statement, “We sincerely apologize to the workers who suffered from illness and their families. We have failed to properly manage health risks at our semiconductor and LCD factories.”
Samsung Electronics happens to be the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer and chipmaker. It is the flagship subsidiary of the Samsung Group, and the biggest of the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate the economy in South Korea.
In spite of playing a key role in the economy of its home-country, Samsung has also been accused of murky political connections.
Samsung Electronics’ de facto leader Lee Jae-yong was found guilty of bribing the former president Park Geun-hye as a part of the corruption scandal that brought her down. He eventually had to spend almost a year in prison before an appeal was made where most of his convictions were overturned. He was thereafter released.
According to campaign groups, 320 people employed by Samsung Electronics suffered from work-related illnesses, and among them 118 died.
Samsung Electronics has agreed to a deal earlier this month under which it will pay a compensation of up to 150 million won ($133,000) per case.
The deal covers 16 types of cancer, rare illnesses, miscarriages and congenital diseases suffered by the workers’ children. Workers who have worked at Samsung’s plants as far back as 1984 qualify to be claimants.
The scandal had first emerged in 2007 when former workers from Samsung’s semiconductor and display factories in Suwon and their families had said that staff had diagnosed or died of various kinds of cancer.
What followed for the next 10 years were a series of rulings and decisions by courts, Seoul’s state labor welfare agency and a mediation committee. This finally ended today when Samsung Electronics apologized to all those who suffered.
Relatives’ leader Hwang Sang-gi, who lost his 22-year old daughter to leukaemia in 2007, told reporters that he was happy that he could keep the promise he made to her.
However, he added, “The apology honestly was not enough for the families of the victims but we will accept it. No amount of apology will be enough to heal all the insults, the pain of industrial injuries and the suffering of losing one’s family. I cannot forget the pain she and our family went through. Too many people have suffered the same fate.”