Archive for April, 2012

On 10th April 2012, Samsung occupational victims in the semiconductor industry received a major boost forward in their long struggle.

Below is the statement of SHARPS on April 10 regarding the ruling:

Today, April 10, The Ministry of Employment and Labor announced its recognition of the aplastic anemia suffered by Ms. Jisook Kim as an occupational disease from her work at Samsung Semiconductor Onyang factory. Ms. Jisook Kim is the 18th victim to make a workers’ compensation application with SHARPS.

In SHARPS we believe this recognition of Ms. Kim’s aplastic anemia as an occupational disease by KCOMWEL is a completely correct and sensible judgment.

The work conditions of Ms. Jisook Kim were almost same as for the other victims of Samsung Semiconductor Onyang factory who had applied with SHARPS for workers’ compensation since 2007.

In that time, KCOMWEL had investigated the illnesses (such as leukemia, malignant lymphoma, aplastic anemia and related blood diseases) of the same type as Ms. Kim which had been reported in the same workplace, but it had said that no cancerous materials like benzene could be found, and had repeatedly refused to give recognition of the illnesses as occupational diseases. But now it has recognized the worker’s disease as an occupational one in the case of Ms. Kim’s application.

This essentially shows KCOMWEL’s own recognition that its previous refusals to recognize occupational disease had been wrong.

We can say that with the approval ruling for Ms. Jisook Kim, KCOMWEL has set a new benchmark.
We believe that this opens a path in the future for workers’ compensation approvals for victims of leukemia, malignant lymphoma, aplastic anemia, and other illnesses, not only in Samsung but also in every semiconductor factory.

There are so many cases that should already have been approved for workers’ compensation by now. Although we feel it is very late for KCOMWEL to give approval of  workers’ compensation for the first time now, five years after leukemia and other diseases in semiconductor factories had become known, we still gladly welcome the ruling of KCOMWEL based on reason and truthful evidence, even if only now.

Above all, we can’t help but be glad that this recognition ruling will give at least a little comfort to the victims who struggle day by day to cope with their diseases like aplastic anemia.

Moreover, this decision opens the way for workers’ compensation approval for occupational disease victims of Samsung Semiconductor who had previously been rejected for compensation and who are now in civil lawsuits -Chang-ho Song, Eun-kyung Kim, Myeong-hwa Yoo, Yoon-jung Lee, Yoo–mi Hwang (d), Sook-young Lee (d), Min-Woong Hwang (d), and others – as well as other victims.

Lastly, this is the chance for Samsung to stop insisting and deceiving the public that it uses no cancerous chemicals and that the sicknesses of the workers are not occupational. Instead, with the decision of KCOMWEL to recognize Ms. Jisook Kim’s occupation disease, Samsung should admit there was a serious problem in the work conditions at its semiconductor factories, and apologize to the victims and to the public.

For this, the first step of Samsung should be to stop to its interference (application to supplement the lawsuit) in the civil lawsuits of the victims for workers’ compensation.

Original statement in Korean by SHARPS with related statements and documents are here: http://cafe.daum.net/samsunglabor/MHzN/113

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On March 6th, 2012, a Memorial Day was held in Seoul for deceased Samsung worker Hwang Yumi and all the other occupational deaths in Semiconductor/Electronics Industry…

Father of Hwang Yumi, a Samsung worker who died of leukemia five years ago. He was one of the first to realize the problem of occupational cancers and illnesses among Samsung workers and challenge Samsung to take responsiblity

You can see the original and more photos of SHARPs’ activities at their website here:


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The Occupational Diseases of Electronics/Semiconductor Industry in South Korea
based on the information collected by SHARPS
Update as of March 5th, 2012

(The numbers mean victims and deaths among them respectively)

Total: 154, 61 (i.e. 154 victims found with occupational diseases; 61 deaths)

Samsung Semiconductor: 85, 30
Samsung LCD: 16, 7
Samsung mobile phone and other electronics: 11, 7
Samsung Electromechatronics: 11, 7
Samsung SDI: 10, 2
Samsung Techwin: 4, 0
(Subtotal of Samsung: 137, 53)

Hynix (Magnachip): 9, 5
Amco Technology Korea (Anam): 2, 0
Subcontractors of electronics components: 6, 3

These are the reported and known cases; how many more sick victims and deaths might there be which have been unreported?

Workers must be informed about the hazards they face at work; their rights to information and protection must be respected; and their lives must be treasured. Until all these are achieved in the industry, particularly at Samsung, the number of sick and dead victims will only keep rising.

Here you can find our previous posting regarding illnesses and deaths of workers in Samsung factories, which SHARPS had become aware of by 2010:


And here, about new victims that were discovered in 2011:


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Previously on this blog, we shared that Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (KCOMWEL), had taken the brazenly anti-worker step of appealing to a higher court against a court ruling which had overturned KCOMWEL’s rejection of two Samsung workers’ claim for compensation. That court had confirmed that indeed there was a link between the workers’ Samsung workplace and their cancer and illness.

Below we share the letter of nearly 200 signatories, who sent a letter to the South Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor in October 2011, condemning the behavior of KCOMWEL which appears to be colluding with the corporation Samsung at worst, and at the least does not appear to be doing the maximum to protect workers’ welfare and implement correct judgement about their just compensation from workplace injury and illness.

(The previous posting re: this case is here: https://stopsamsung.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/state-agency-kcomwel-appeals-against-court-ruling-in-favor-of-samsung-occupational-disease-victims/)

October 3, 2011

Honorable Minister Lee Chae-Pil

Ministry of Employment and Labor

Republic of South Korea

Dear Honorable Minister Lee Chae-Pil,

We are writing to express deep concern about the recent actions of Korea

Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (KCOMWEL), an important part of the Ministry of Employment and Labor directly involved in compensation for worker injury.

As you know, in recent times more than 140 workers in the electronics sector have been diagnosed with serious occupational diseases including cancer, and at least one third of them have already died. Most of them worked for Samsung.

Twenty injured workers filed for compensation by KCOMWEL due to the occupational origin of their illnesses. We were surprised and disturbed to hear that KCOMWEL rejected their claims. We believe that KCOMWEL’s rejection does not reflect the agency’s mission to, “…contribute to the improvement of workers’ quality of life…” nor does it offer a, “…working hope and dream for workers” as stated by Mr. Shin Young-Chul, the President of KCOMWEL.

On June 23, 2011, the Seoul Administrative Court overturned KCOMWEL’s erroneous judgment, finding the agency to be wrong in rejecting the link between leukemia and the workplace of two workers. This raises further questions about how KCOMWEL is operating with respect to its mission.

The process became even more disturbing when KCOMWEL decided to appeal the court’s decision, effectively seeking to refuse worker compensation for injury in the workplace. When a public interest non-governmental organization (Supporters for Health and Right of People in Semiconductor Industry) pressed KCOMWEL about their decision to appeal, they were told that the Prosecutor made the decision to appeal and that the agency must obey their decision. However, Mr. Shin Young-Chul stated that he would re-exam the appeal and notify the injured workers if it would go forward. This turned out to deceptive.  During the recent National Assembly audit, Mr. Chung Dong Young (a lawmaker from the Democratic Party) revealed that KCOMWEL had already submitted a document actively proposing an appeal to the Prosecutor three days before promising injured workers KCOMWEL would investigate the matter and stating that KCOMWEL was just following the wishes of the Prosecutor. The investigation by Mr. Chung Dong Young revealed that KCOMWEL actively worked to undermine the court judgment and indicated that KCOMWEL coordinated with Samsung on the matter. Apparently, KCOMWEL actively worked to avoid workers’ compensation and even lied to injured victims about the entire process.

We find KCOMWEL’s actions to be dishonorable and not in keeping with the agency mission or the standards of the Korean Government. Therefore, in the short term we urge the Ministry of Labor and Employment to withdraw the mistaken court appeal of the two injured Samsung workers. We also believe that the agency should be held accountable for its dishonorable actions. In the mid- term, we believe that there should be a careful examination of KCOMWEL operations with an eye towards improving workers’ quality of life, starting with full disclosure and transparency of agency research and actions.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best regards,

Sanjiv Pandita, Executive Director

Asia Monitor Resource Centre

Flat 7, 9th Floor, Block A

Fuk Keung Industrial Building

66-68 Tong Mi Road

Kowloon, Hong Kong

Ph: 2332-1346, 2332-1347

Fax: 2385-5319

CC: Shin Young Chul, Chairperson, KCOMWEL

Assembly members of the Environment and Labor Committee

Dr. Jeong-ok Kong, SHARPS

Additional Signatories

1 Australia National Toxics Network  Joanna Immig Coordinator

2 Mariann Lloyd-Smith PhD, Senior Advisor

3 Bangladesh Center for Participatory Research and

Development Md Shamsuddoha

4 Coastal development Partnership  M M Mahbub Hasan Chief Regional Officer

5 Community Development Friend  Anwara Parvin

6 Belgium European Trade Union Institute Tony Musu Senior Researcher

7 Laurent Vogel Director of the Working Conditions

8 R.I.S.K. Tony Tweedale

9 Cambodia Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) Heng Sam Orn Secretary General

10 The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association  Nay Vanda Director

11 Worker’s Information Center(WIC) Touch Sreyneath Coordinator

12 Cameroon Centre de Recherche et d’Education pour le

Développement Gilbert Kuepouo, PhD  Coordinator

13 Canada Clean Production Action Beverly Thorpe Co-Director

14 Maquila Solidarity Network Kevin Thomas

15 Lynda Yanz

16 United Food and Commercial Workers Local

832 Robert Hilliard

Workers’ Compensation Advocate

17 Worksafe Dorothy Wigmore Occupational health specialist

18 China Asia Monitor Resource Center Sanjiv Pandita Executive Director

19 Doris Lee Publications Coordinator

20 Fahmi Panimbang

21 Omana George

22 Globalization Monitor May Wong

23 Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union Koonkwan Ng Organizer

24 Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior Chan Sze Wan Debby

25 Egypt Day Hospital Institute for Development and Rehabilitation Ahmed Abou-El-Ezz Eng. Coordinator

26 Fiji Peoples Community Network

27 Germany University of Constance  Dieter Kief

28 Women in Europe for a Common Future Alexandra Caterbow Coordinator, Chemicals and Health

29 Ghana Ecological Restorations Emmanuel Odjam- Akumatey Executive Director

30 Hungary Clean Air Action Group Andras Lukacs President

31 Greenpeace Gergely Simon

32 India Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) Dharmesh Shah

33 New Socialist Initiative (NSI) India Bonojit Hussain

34 Occupational and Environmental Health network of India  Mohit Gupta Coordinator

35 Peoples Training And Research Centre Jagdish Patel

36 The Other Media Madhumita Dutta Corporate Accountability Desk

37 Indonesia Federation of Independent Trade Union (GSBI) Rudi Hb Daman Chair

38 Indonesia Toxics-Free Network Yuyun Ismawati; Goldman Prize 2009 Coordinator

39 Institut Perempuan (Women’s Institute) Ellin Program Coordinator

40 Valentina Sagala Director

41 International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) Wahyu Susilo Program Coordinator

42 Papua Traditional Council Leonard Imbiri General Secretary

43 PERGERAKAN Shantoy Hades Head of International Networks

44 Sedane Labour Resource Centre Syarif Arifin

45 Solidaritas Perempuan (Women Solidarity) Aliza Yuliana Program Coordinator

46 The Indonesian Anti Discrimination Movement (GANDI)

47 YTLI and Yamakindo Blanche Director

48 Independent Committee for Election Monitoring Pipit Apriani Foreign Affairs Officer

49 Migrant CARE  Wahyu Susilo Founding Member

50 Japan Citizens Against Chemical Pollution Takeshi Yasuma Chemicals Policy Analyst

51 Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center  Sugio Furuya Secretary General

52 Malaysia All Women’s Action Scoeity (AWAM) Ho Yocklin Acting President/Deputy President

53 Building and Wood workers’ International Shelly Wolya Asia Pacific Regional Office

54 Consumer Association of Penang Mageswari Sangaralingam Research Director

55 Electronic Industry Employees’ Union Western Region Peninsular Malaysia  Saharudin Adnan

56 Labour Resource Centre (LRC),  Saharudin Adnan Organizier

57 Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor Irene Xavier

58 Sahabat Alam Malaysia (Friends of the Earth)  S.M. Mohamed Idris President

59 Sarawak Dayak Iban association Sarawak   SADIA HQ

60 WIRDA MALAYSIA Zuraida Kamarudin

61 Mexico CAATA Fernando Bejarano

62 CEREAL David Foust Rodríguez

63 Colibri Consulting Michael Conroy Co-Director

64 Nepal General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions  Ramesh Badal Secretary , Department of Foreign Affairs

65 Nepal Policy Institute Gopal Siwakoti ‘Chintan’

66 Water and Energy Users’ Federation-Nepal

67 Netherlands ABVAKABO FNV Bert Giskes

68 GoodElectronics Network Pauline Overeem Coordinator

69 New Zealand Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand Meriel Watts, PhD Coordinator

70 UNITE Union Duncan Allan

71 Pakistan Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research

72 Philippines Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research Anna Leah Escresa

73 Kilusang Mayo Uno Miles Quero-Asa Secretary, International Dept

74 Migrante International Gina Esguerra Secretary General

75 National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights Marlon Torres

76 Solidarity of Cavite Workers Jojit

77 The Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy Amira Rasul Director

78 Russia EcoAccord Program on Chemical Safety Olga Speranskaya Director, PhD Goldman Prize 2009

79 Singapore Think Centre Ted Tan Executive Secretary

80 Spain Mercuriados Servando Pérez-Dominguez President

81 University of Valladolid Santiago Cáceres Industrial Engineering Faculty

82 Sri Lanka National Free Trade Union Leon Joseph

83 Ceylon Plantation Worker’s Union Menaha Kandasamy

84 Red Flag Women’s Movement S. Anandi

85 Cendi  Z. Faizun

86 Sweden Genombrott Cooperative Consultants Jerker Thorsell

87 Svenska Livs Sten-Olof Svensson

88 Fair Trade Center Charlie Aronsson Project leader-makeITfair

89 Switzerland International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) Jenny Holdcroft Director, ICT,Electrical & Electronics,Aerospace

90 Taiwan CEFC Taipei  Paul Jobin Director

91 Citizen of the earth          Richie Leu

92 Hua-Mei Chiu

93 Environmental Jurists Association Echo Lin Secretary General

94 Green Consumers Foundation Jay Fang

95 Serve the People Association  Lennon Ying-Dah Wong International Coordinator

96 Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries  Nien-Yun Liu Association for former RCA employees

97 The Society of Wilderness Hanlin Li

98 Thailand Committee for Asian Women  Theint

99 Human Rights Education Institute of Burma  Myo Min Director

100 mahidol university Andy Hall

101 Migrant Workers Union Junya (Lek) Yimprasert

102 Thai Labor Campaign Patchanee Kumnak

103 Worker  Hub For Change (WH4C) Pranom Somwong

104 Tunisia Association pour la Protection de l’Environnement et la Développement Durable de Bizete Najwa Bourawi, MD President

105 U.K. Communities Against Toxics Ralph Ryder Coordinator

106 Hazards Magazine Rory O’Neill Editor

107 National Hazards Campaign Hilda Palmer Chair

108 PHASE II Grace Morrison

109 Jim McCourt

110 Public Interest Consultants Alan Watson, PhD  President

111 Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior  Jenny Chan

112 Uganda Uganda Network on Toxic Free Malaria Control  Ellady Muyambi Secretary General

113 USA AFGE 3172 Howard Egerman

114 AFSCME Council 57 Nadia Bledsoe

115 AFSCME Local 3299 Danielle Di Silverio

116 AIHA-NCS Susan Eckhardt

117 Alaska Community Action on Toxics Pamela Miller Executive Director

118 Alliance of Forest Workers and Harvesters Carl Wilmsen

119 American Public Health Association Tim Morse Chair, Occupational Health Section

120 AmericanHealthStudies.org Paul Connett Director

121 Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization  Linda Reinstein President & CEO

122 ATU Local 1555 Antonette Bryant

123 Basel Action Network James Puckett Executive Director

124 California Alliance for Retired Americans Tom Rankin

125 California Department of Public Health Faith Raider

126 California Labor Federation Mitch Seaman

127 Carpenter & Mayfield Constance Carpenter Attorney

128 Center for Environmental Health Michael Green

129 Chinese Progressive Association Ka Yan Cheung

130 Shawsan Liu Lead Organizer

131 City University of New York Immanuel Ness Professor

132 Communications Workers of America David LeGrande Director, Occupational Safety and Health

133 Cook County Ambulatory & Community Health Network  Rachel Rubin MD, MPH

134 CWA Carlos Celis union worker

135 CWA 9415 Karin Hart

136 Don’t Waste Arizona Stephen Brittle President

137 EBASE Aditi Vaidya

138 Environmental Health Strategy Center Michael Belliveau Executive Director

139 Filipino Community Center Mario de Mira

140 Fluoride Action Network Paul Connett, Phd Director

141 Foundation Earth Randy Hayes Executive Director

142 Friends of the Earth Brent Blackwelder President Emeritus

143 George Washington University Celeste Monforton School of Public Health & Health Services

144 Ginzberg Productions    Abby Ginzberg Producer

145 Global Community Monitor Denny Larson Executive Director

146 Hesperian Foundation Todd Jailer

147 Hesperian Health Guides  Miriam Lara

148 History of Silicon Valley Glenna Mathews Historian

149 IAM 1546 Garry Horrocks

150 International Campaign for Responsible Technology Ted Smith Coordinator

151 International Chemical Workers Union Council/UFCW  John Morawetz

152 International Longshore & Warehouse Union Peter Olney

153 Investor Environmental Health Network Sanford Lewis Counsel

154 Madera Group Kath Delaney Founder & Principal

155 Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network Garrett Brown

156 Minnesota Global Justice Project David Pellow

157 Mujeres por La Paz Diana Crowder

158 Mujeres Unidas y Activas Carmen Denis

159 Jeannette Henriquez

160 New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) Joel Shufro Executive Director

161 Occidental College Robert Gottlieb Professor

162 San Francisco City College Bill Shields Labor & Community Studies

163 San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation Anthony Stefani

164 San Jose Peace & Justice Center Charlotte Casey Board member

165 San Jose State University Alberta Jimmenez

166 Hilary Nixon, Ph.D. Department of Urban & Regional Planning

167 San Mateo County Labor Council Shelley Kessler Executive Officer

168 Santa Clara University Dr. Chad Raphael Professor & Department Chair

169 Science and Environmental Health Network Ted Schlettler

170 SEIU Local 1021 Lorraine Thiebaud

171 Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Sheila Davis Executive Director

172 SUNY-Downstate School of Public Health Paul Landsbergis Associate Professor

173 Trans-Pacific Environmental Action Network  Wenling Tu

174 Tufts University Beth Rosenberg

175 UAW/Local 2324 (Retired) Albert Sargis

176 UC Berkeley Labor Center Ken Jacobs

177 UCLA   Judith Sweeny

178 UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program  Linda Delp

179 Univ Calif UPTE-CWA 9119 Joan Lichterman

180 Univ Mass Lowell Charles Levenstein Professor Emeritas of Work Environment

181 University of California Mairi Hartooni

182 Wellington Onyeawe

183 Amy Kyle School of Public Health

184 University of California Irvine BongKyoo Choi Center for Occupational and Environment Health

185 University of California, Berkeley Juliann Sum

186 Laura Stock

187 Valeria Velazquez

188 Yesenia Prudo

189 University of California, Santa Cruz Ravi Rajan

190 University of Massachusetts Lowell Craig Slatin Professor

191 Thomas Estabrook Worker Health Educator

192 USW Rhonda Little

193 WILPF San Jose CA Branch  Shirley Lin Kinoshita

194 Worksafe Amanda Hawes Board Chair

195 Gail Bateson Executive Director

196 Pattricia Quinlan

197 Tiffany Crain

* 197 signatures from 176 public interest NGOs and academia out of 39 Countries

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