Samsung Electronics has publicly apologized for the illnesses and deaths of some of its employees at its computer chip and display factories and agreed to pay compensation up to 150 million Korean won (~$130,000) per illness.
News sources report that Samsung Electronics chief executive Kim Ki-nam, speaking at a press conference, acknowledged that the company “did not fully and completely manage potential health risks at our chip and liquid-crystal display production lines.” Kim offered “a sincere apology” to the victims and their families.
Supporters for the Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry (SHARPS), an advocacy group, estimates that 200 employees have contracted diseases ranging from brain tumors to leukemia, have suffered miscarriages or given birth to children with developmental disabilities because of their work for Samsung. Approximately 70 people have died from their illnesses. SHARPS was founded by Hwang Sang-ki, whose daughter died of leukemia in 2007 while working on a Samsung chip production line.
SHARPS entered into mediation with Samsung in 2014 but the two entities failed to reach a settlement, despite the company’s offer of its own compensation plan. Talks resumed earlier this year and resulted in the settlement and compensation package announced recently, although Samsung – which is required to begin remitting money through a third party by the end of 2018 – has until October 31, 2028 to finish making the payments.
Samsung’s apology did not specifically acknowledge that conditions at its workplaces were a direct cause of workers’ illnesses.