People's Media - Newscham

all text articles

Home > list > labor
Leukemia in a Samsung Semiconductor Plant
“In the past seven years 5 workers have met deaths including 23-year-old Hwang Yu-mi”
Choi In-hee, Reporter
Thirteen groups including KCTU Kyung-gi Regional Council, The Solidarity for Healthy Labor World, Committee struggling for former Samsung workers’ rehiring, Dasan Human Rights Center, Council of Workers Injured by Industrial Disaster today launched a joint effort, named Committee for Inspection over Leukemia Outbreaks and Securing Labor Rights.

Two female workers in the same working process all died of leukemia.

As Hwang Yu-mi, a female worker of one of Samsung Semiconductor’s plants, died of leukemia at age of 23 last March, hidden cases started to be revealed. She entered Samsung Semiconductor in 2003, had worked at third bay of three-lined diffusion process of a plant in Ki-heung until she died of acute leukemia in June, 2005. A worker in the same process, whose name has been unknown except family name Lee, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia and died in two months.

According to the committee, there have reportedly been at least 6 cases for the past seven years and five of them already passed away. They have lost contact with other bereaved families and have trouble seeking another workers to give further evidences about working condition of the plant, says the committee.

Mr. Hwang Sang-gi, the late Ms. Hwang’s father, said, “the way Samsung has been dealing with this problem makes me angry and feel sadness,” and “the company promised compensation when my daughter turned out to be ill, after she died, however, they changed their attitude and said ‘Do whatever you can, if you think you could beat Samsung.’” He added “I hope a labor union will be made so that no further resentful death may happen and workers can be working under safer working condition.”

“Do whatever you want, if you think you could beat Samsung”” said Samsung

The committee is arguing that her disease should be treated as an industrial disaster case citing Enforcement Rule Article 33 of Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act that “Unless there is apparent counterevidence that the disease did not come from work-related factors, the disease should be regarded as industrial accident,” and said “because noxiousness of chemical substances cannot be generalized and there is no counterevidence, the case should be recognized as an industrial accident.”

Moreover, the late Ms. Hwang and Ms. Lee, both of them died of leukemia, were supposed to be exposed to harmful substances doing their work of soaking six-inch paper into the substances manually with insufficient protection equipments such as cloth masks and goggles not discovering the lower part of chin.

There is another suspicion that a ventilator located right above their head aggravated the situations. The fact that the two persons were in the same process and died of the same cause is making the case of the assertion of the committee.

“The leading semiconductor industry has neglected occupational disease and pollution”

In its statement the committee said “nobody knows how many people of those who have worked at this plant have suffered from the same disease for the past 20 years, but the we know empirically that miscarriage rates and cancer rates are high for those who are in the semiconductor industry where hundreds of noxious substances are being used,” and emphasized “Korea Labor Welfare Corporation should recognize this case as an industrial accident without hesitation.”

It also rebuked Samsung for its “being neglectful of basic responsibility of employer, coaxing sick worker to retire, and giving pain to the bereaved who cannot enter workshop saying ‘Find any defect of the workshop on your own,’” and added “these agonies correspond with decades-long agony of Samsung workers whose labor rights have been trampled under Samsung’s ‘no-union’ policy.”

The bereaved family of the late Ms. Hwang subscribed for allowances to surviving family and awaits the result of dynamic investigation of correlation between the disease and the working condition.

The committee is going to make every effort to reveal the situation and stage general struggle for securing basic labor rights of Samsung workers. It also said it would “disclose grim aspects of the industry which has been glamorized as ‘cutting-edge technology in the global age’, ‘leading industry of the nation.’”

Leukemia Related Fact Sheet in a Samsung Semiconductor company

October, 2003
The late Ms. Hwang entered Samsung (with ten other colleagues of her high school)
-Hwang had worked at three-lined diffusion process for 13 months

December, 2004
She was placed to the third bay of the diffusion process.

May, 2005
She started to vomit, feel fatigue and dizziness, finding bruise.

June 10, 2005
She turned out to have acute Acute myeloid leukemia M2.

August, 2005
Mr. Hwang, a facility engineer of Ki-heung plant, died of leukemia (exact date of outbreak is unknown)

December, 2005
She took bone-marrow transplantation operation.

June, 2006
Lee, a Ms. Hwang’s colleague, turned out to have lymphocytic leukemia.

August, 2006
Lee died.

October, 2006
The company forced her to retire again.

November, 2006
The disease recurred.

March, 2007
Ms. Whang died.

June, 2007
The bereaved family subscribed for allowances to surviving family

June ~ July, 2007
Korea Labor Welfare Corporation investigated documents.

August, 2007
The bereaved asked Korea Occupational Safety & Health Agency for dynamic investigation.

August, 2007
Because of summer vacation and power failure in the plant, the investigation was postponed.

September 17~21, 2007
Korea Occupational Safety & Health Agency had conducted investigation.

The results are being processed.

[According to Committee for Inspection over LeukemiaOutbreaks and Securing Labor Rights]

Translate by Cho Eun-seok

trackback URL [copyinClipboard]



This is just one small part coming up on the surface among Samsun's bad acts. Samsung should stop un-ethical act specially in Korea and start paying back to companies and individuals whom they have used to become the top company in Korea.
2010.03.08 14:46