Despite the efforts Samsung Electronics is making to help the victims of leukemia with official apologies and plans for compensation, more cases of leukemia-stricken factory workers are floating to the top, hurting the company’s image drastically.
Recently, the families of leukemia victims submitted a plea to the Labor Welfare Corporation Ulsan Division last year. The plea asked for Samsung SDI to acknowledge the occurrence of leukemia in factory workers as an industrial accident, but it was rejected.
Factory worker “P” was hired by KP&G, a subcontractor of Samsung SDI, for 10 months in 2004 to wash CRT components. P died in November 2005 at the age of 28 from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. P’s father filed for industrial accident compensation to the Labor Welfare Corporation Ulsan Division last year, but it was rejected. The answer he received from the Labor Welfare Corporation was that the period of employment was “too short.”
Six Out of 13 Already Dead
But even factory workers with long employments histories with the company did not receive any compensation from Samsung SDI. Factory worker “Y” had been exposed to organic solvents and lasers while working in Ulsan Color CRT Plant 1 for 23 years, and died of acute myeloid leukemia in 2011. His family is planning to appeal.
According to the families of victims and a human rights association in Ulsan, 18 factory workers and ex-workers of Samsung SDI Ulsan Plant suffer from cancer or leukemia. Six of them have already died. And more than ten people are suffering from either cerebral, cardiovascular, or renal diseases. Some have even experienced sudden death.
Most of the 18 victims of cancer and leukemia have worked at Ulsan Plant 1.
Samsung SDI’s Ulsan Color CRT Plant 1, established in 1986, was the main factory that contributed greatly to Samsung’s annual production of 10 million CRTs until production was moved to Malaysia in 2007. The human rights association of Ulsan is also investigating Plant 2 and Plant 3 to look for more victims of industrial accidents, for they are also working in the same environment and using the same deadly organic solvents.
All This for Not Having a Labor Union
The victims claim that diseases like lymphoma, leukemia, and lung cancer all fall under acquired diseases from labor, according to the revised industrial accident standards from the Ministry of Labor. They also said that 10 factory workers who worked in Samsung SDI’s Ulsan factory are suffering from either cerebral disease or renal failure.
An official from a human rights association in Ulsan said, “Samsung had always inspected and worked hard to prevent labor unions from forming, and now look what happened. So many of the cancer victims are not being compensated fairly, and it’s all because there is no labor union.” He also said, “And more and more people are developing cancer and leukemia, not only from Samsung SDI but other Samsung affiliates as well. So many people still have not filed an application to be compensated.” He went on to demand that Samsung group make an official apology, and the authorities should accept them as industrial accidents.
One specialist in industrial accidents said, “It took the victims of Samsung Electronics seven years to get an apology,” and, “The way Samsung SDI will handle the industrial accident issue will depend on the current negotiation of compensation.”