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Archive for May, 2012

An attempt by an independent publisher to get the word out about more than a hundred victims of occupational diseases at Samsung has hit an unexpected snag, after most of South Korea’s handful of independent media outlets refused to take advertisements for a set of two comic books about the outbreak of a variety of blood disorders at Samsung’s electronics affiliates.

As of March 2012, SHARPS has profiled 155 workers who contracted various forms of leukemia, multiple sclerosis and aplastic anemia after years of employment in the electronics industry in South Korea.

Of the 155, 62 have died.  The majority of the workers, 138, were employed at Samsung Electronics, Samsung Electro-Mechanics and Samsung SDS—the three electronics affiliates of the Samsung Group, the country’s largest conglomerate.  Among the 62 deaths were 55 Samsung employees.

In April 2012, Bori Publication Co., Ltd. approached about six independent print and online publications to place ads for two comics, The Smell of Humanity and A Dustless Room.  Only two publications, online daily Pressian and independent daily Hankyoreh’s Internet TV unit Hani TV, took the ads.  One publication rejected the ad after the publisher refused to remove references to Samsung from copy.  Another publication rejected it, citing a conflict of interest between sponsors because Samsung is also a sponsor.  A third publication demanded high premiums for the ads.

Samsung controls the lion’s share in the advertisement market.  According to a survey, in 2008 the Samsung Group made up 40 percent of a total marketing and advertisement expenses of the country’s ten largest chaebols, or family-owned conglomerates.

Paradoxically, their financial vulnerability often leaves smaller and independent media more susceptible to Samsung’s pressure, tacit or otherwise.  In fairness, the six publications ran favorable reviews of the two comic books.

The Smell of Humanity is about the father of a 21-year-old woman worker who died of leukemia after having working for two years at a semiconductor lab of Samsung Electronics.

A Dustless Room is about how Samsung’s clean rooms, where semiconductors are produced in an isolated environment, were designed and run to protect the integrity of chips at the cost of the workers’ safety.

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The Smell of Humanity and A Clean Room, the two comic books about victims of occupational diseases at Samsung

Bori and SHARPS are relying on word of mouth and Twitter for the promotion of the books.  The Smell of Humanity and A Dustless Room currently rank second and third on the top 100 comic books on Aladdin.co.kr, one of South Korea’s largest online bookstores.

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Samsung and the Korean Government Must Take Responsibility as the 55th Worker Dies from Occupational Cancer

9th May 2012

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We, the participants of the makeITfair and GoodElectronics Round Table meeting, express our sincere condolences to the family of Ms. Lee Yunjeong who died 7 May 2012 at age 32 after struggling with occupational brain cancer from the Samsung semiconductor factory in Korea. Lee Yunjeong left behind a loving husband and two small children. Her funeral will be held on the morning of May 10th in Korea.

 

In 1997 at the age of 17, Lee Yunjeong began work at the Samsung Semiconductor Assembly and Test Factory in Onyang, Korea. For six years she experienced daily toxic chemical exposures during her job as a chip tester. In 2010, Lee Yunjeong was diagnosed with malignant brain cancer and died two years later after struggling with surgery and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, her suffering included more than a horrible disease.

 

Like other workers that suffer from occupational diseases, Lee Yunjeong applied for workers compensation at the relevant Government department. However, the Korean Government refused to compensate her because she could not prove which specific toxic chemicals she had been exposed to. Samsung supported the Government’s decision.

 

Despite her illness, in 2011 Lee Yunjeong filed a lawsuit against the Government’s denial of workers compensation. Samsung lawyers fought against the lawsuit on behalf of the Government, arguing that no compensation should be provided to Lee Yunjeong or her family. Unfortunately, Lee Yunjeong died before the lawsuit could be decided.  

 

Like 54 workers before her, Lee Yunjeong is a lethal victim of occupational illness resulting from toxic chemical exposure at Samsung. Unfortunately, her story is emblematic of a deeper problem in two ways. First, the Korean Workers Compensation and Welfare Service admits that Korea lags far behind when it comes to the rate at which cancer is acknowledged as caused by job activities. Second, the Korean judicial system has confirmed the link between occupational illness and Samsung employment for other victims.   

 

We, the participants of the makeITfair and GoodElectronics Round Table meeting respectfully request the following actions:

 

  • A peaceful solemn funeral ceremony which is not interrupted by either the Government or Samsung activities
  • Compensation for all victims of occupational diseases, particularly those from the electronics industry including Samsung
  • Concrete, publically announced actions by Samsung accompanied with substantial participation of the workers to prevent toxic chemical exposures and occupational diseases
  • Public commitment by the Korean Government and Samsung that the right to a safe and healthy work environment is a fundamental human right
  • An apology for the death of Lee Yunjeong from the Korean Government and Samsung

 

 Signatories of 34 participants from 18 countries

Name

Country

Institution (Only for Identification)

Caudron Jean-Marc

Belgium

achACT

Lynda Yanz

Canada

Maquila Solidarity Network

Chan Sze Wan Debby

China

SACOM

Vikki Chan

China

ITUC/GUF

May Wong

China

Globalization Monitor

Jakob Rasmussen

Denmark

DanWatch

Lotta Staffans

Finland

ProEthical Trade

Henri Purje

Finland

FinnWatch

Sebastian Jekutsch

Germany

FIfF e.V.

Cornelia Heydenreich

Germany

German Watch

Laura Ceresna

India

Cividep

Jeong-ok Kong

Korea

Korea Institute of Labor Safety and Health

Bruno Periera

Maleysia

Electronic Industry Employers’ Union Western Region

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ImageWe lost another life of  young  Samsung worker at 7th May. This is the 55th Death from Samsung.

Lee Yunjeong, who had been born in 1980, worked in Samsung semiconductor Assembly & Test factory in Onyang for six years from  1997 to 2003, and got diagnosis malignant brain cancer at 2010.

After two-year suffering from the brain surgery and chemotherapy, finally she passed away at 7 May 2012, in her age of 32, leaving the loving husband and two children.

Lee Yunjeong had applied for Workers’ Compensation to the Governments, which is one of Korean social insurances, but the Governments refused to compensate her because she could not prove which toxic chemicals she had been exposed to.

Lee raised lawsuit against the Governments’ decision at 2011, but could not survive long enough to see the result of lawsuit. Samsung has involved the lawsuit by hiring lawyers to support the Governments and to prevent the workers and the families from getting compensation.

Her funeral will be held at the morning of 10th May(time in Korea) in front of Samsung headquarter building in Seoul.

Korean Government and Samsung should apologize in front of the death of Lee.
Korean Government and Samsung should guarantee the solemn funeral ceremony can be finished in peace at May 10th.
Samsung should stop undermining the just right of workers to be compensated, and respect the labor rights.
Korean Government should compensate to all the victims from electronic industry including Samsung.

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