Another Samsung semiconductor worker dies of leukemia

By 정주원
  • Published : Aug 5, 2014 - 10:51
  • Updated : Aug 5, 2014 - 10:51

Another worker from a Samsung Electronics Co. chipmaking facility died earlier this month from leukemia after working at the company for 27 years, a labor advocacy group said Tuesday, just days after compensation talks between the two sides for similar victims ended without much progress.

The Protector of Health and Human Rights of Semiconductor Workers said Lee Beom-woo, 47, died a month after being hospitalized for leukemia. He worked for 23 years at Samsung's facility in Onyang, South Chungcheong Province, about 120 kilometers south of Seoul.

SHARP is an advocacy group representing the victims who fell ill or died while working at Samsung's chip plants. It is the negotiating counterpart to Samsung Electronics on the long-standing issue of compensating workers suffering from cancer.

Victims and their families say that the illnesses and deaths were caused by the workers' exposure to toxic substances at the semiconductor factories. The issue came to the fore after Hwang Yu-mi, a former employee at Samsung's chipmaking facility in Giheung, just south of Seoul, died from leukemia in 2007. 

"Samsung's semiconductor production line in Onyang is a place where hazardous factors linked to leukemia, such as epoxy resin and radiation machineries, exist," SHARP said in its release. It cited a 2012 study by the Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute as supporting its claim.

"Our research shows there were 40 cases of environment-related diseases at Samsung's Onyang facility, including 12 workers suffering from lymphatic system-related illnesses," the organization said, adding that the number jumps to 150 cases when taking Samsung's other facilities into account.

"There can be no more deaths. Samsung should apologize a hundred times for the death of the late Lee, and draw up strict measures to prevent similar cases," SHARP added.

"We will pray for bliss of the dead and express our condolences," Samsung said in its official statement. "Losing a co-worker who shared the joys and sorrows is a loss for the company as well."

The company did not say anything further, including its stance or opinions on future negotiations with SHARP.

In May, Samsung Electronics officially apologized for the first time for the deaths and suffering of its semiconductor workers and promised compensation.

Since then, the two parties have held negotiations, but there has been no meaningful progress as of their last meeting on July 30. SHARP is demanding, among other things, that Samsung allow a third-party inspection of its facilities, which the company has yet to agree to. (Yonhap)