Samsung Electronics on Friday pledged financial compensation for all victims of work-related diseases who fell sick after working for the company’s semiconductor division, by 2028, admitting that it had overlooked potential health risks.
“Samsung will comply with the compensation plan set by the mediation committee, and will provide the compensation as planned by Oct. 31, 2028 for all victims, including those who will be included as new victims by then,” said Kim Ki-nam, chief executive officer of Samsung Electronics’ device solutions division, in a formal apology to the public.
“Samsung Electronics also did not fully and completely manage potential health risks at our chip and liquid-crystal display production lines,” Kim said. “Today, we express a sincere apology to the workers who suffered from diseases and their families.”
Samsung CEO Kim Ki-nam bows to the victims' families of former Samsung workers who have died of work-related diseases and those who are currently suffering from illnesses at Press Center in central Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
Samsung also decided to donate 50 billion won ($44 million) to the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency to help improve workers’ safety and health in the country, Kim said.
The company will post a written apology on its homepage by the end of November, he added.
Samsung’s apology was made for the first time in 11 years since its former worker Hwang Yu-mi died of leukemia after working for the company’s liquid-crystal display production line in 2007.
Since his daughter’s death, Hwang’s father, Hwang Sang-ki, has been calling for Samsung to make compensation and to take measures to prevent violations of workers’ rights. He has been leading a group of 53 victims, named the Supporters for the Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry.
Samsung CEO Kim Ki-nam (left) holds hands with Han Hye-kyung (right), a former Samsung worker who is suffering a brain illness, at the press conference on Friday. (Yonhap)
According to the mediation committee’s announcement earlier this month, the settlement plan includes compensation of up to 150 million won per illness. The plan also covers congenital diseases suffered by children of victims.
Considering that Samsung had initially set aside around 100 billion won for compensation programs run by the company for workers’ illnesses, the total amount of financial compensation to be agreed on by the mediation committee and victims’ families is estimated to be hundreds of billions won.
Ending the 11-year dispute, Samsung and the group of 53 victims agreed in July to accept any decision made by the mediation committee, unconditionally. The agreement was reached between the chipmaker and the victims’ group four years after the mediation committee was launched.
Despite Samsung’s apology and plans for compensation, Hwang expressed disappointment, saying that the tech giant’s offer was not enough. He urged Samsung to compensate other victims from other affiliates.
“There are many employees exposed to toxic substances and who died of related diseases at Samsung affiliates’ plants -- Samsung Display, Electric-Mechanics, SDS and SDI -- at home and abroad,” Hwang said. “Samsung should prepare a more comprehensive plan for compensation for those who aren’t yet reported as victims, and should apologize for suppressing union labors inside and outside of the country.”
According to the mediation committee, all incumbent or former workers of Samsung and its subcontractors, who have served at the company’s chip and LCD production lines since 1984, will be eligible to apply for compensation.
Around 130 workers have received compensation from Samsung’s programs so far. Those who have received relevant amounts of compensation will receive a deducted amount in compliance with the mediation plan.
Samsung and law firm Jipyong will open an office to carry out the compensation scheme in December, and start the process within the year at the earliest.
By Song Su-hyun (email@example.com)