On April 14, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. abruptly announced that it would proactively solve “the issue of occupational disease.” The company came in response to a proposal made by labor activist-turned lawmaker Sim Sang-jung, of the Justice Party. Samsung appeared to agree to a third party-brokered compensation scheme in a move to sideline SHARPS by installing a new third party in its own terms.
This is not the first time that Samsung maneuvered to isolate SHARPS, a seven-year-long campaign working on behalf of Samsung occupational-disease victims. In 2012, the company announced it would negotiate with SHARPS without first contacting SHARPS. The first round of negotiations took place in December 2012. The negotiations have since become stranded because Samsung continued to question SHARPS’s qualifications as rightful negotiator.
The following is a full English translation of a statement released by SHARPS after Samsung’s announcement. All brackets [ ] are added by the translator.
Our Concerns and Demands
First of all, we would like to welcome an announcement today by Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd that it is sincerely considering demands raised by SHARPS and the families of [occupational disease] victims.
However, over the past seven years, Samsung has never admitted to its wrongdoing in connection with the issue of its occupational disease [cluster].It has offered neither a formal apology nor formal compensation. Worse, Samsung still alleges that leukemia and other diseases contracted by the victims are personal problems that have nothing to do with the company’s working conditions. It has been maintaining blogs called “Semiconductor Story” [Korean] to falsely allege that the company has thorough safety management and has been proactively facilitating petitions for workers’ compensation.
This is not all. SHARPS’s negotiations with Samsung have been stalled since its first meeting in December 2013. At the meeting, Samsung did not even mention such mutually agreed items on the agenda as apologies, compensation, and preventive measures but instead consistently took issue with whether SHARPS qualifies to party to the negotiations.
Samsung’s negotiators said they would not accept the word “victims” and referred to them as “case patients.” “We only have dialogue with case-patients,” Samsung negotiators said. “SHARPS activists should bring a power of attorney from the case-patients.” Samsung insisted on these although the victims’ families clearly said they would negotiate with Samsung in the name of SHARPS—just as they had fought in the past seven years.
In the past four months since the first meeting, SHARPS has repeatedly demanded that Samsung negotiate, the company’s response remains unchanged.
Then Samsung abruptly said it would announce a new position on its occupational disease victims, a day ahead of a session of the National Assembly’s environment and labor commission to discuss a resolution on [Samsung and its occupational disease crisis].
Samsung’s about-face raises more concerns than expectations.
We articulated our demands in an official letter we sent to the company in December. Central to the letter is about a public apology and a commitment to prevent the repeat [of an occupational disease cluster]. It would first respond to our demands if Samsung keenly felt the sadness and sufferings of the victims’ families and genuinely considered their demands. A solid settlement should be through already initiated negotiations with SHARPS
Samsung maneuvered the same in October 2012, ahead of Congressional inspections. Samsung passed up SHARPS and leaked a story to the press that it would have direct dialogue with its victims and their families. Doubts were cast over whether Samsung’s move whether it wanted genuine dialogue or a one-time scheme to mislead public opinion. Today’s announcement is not different. If Samsung had seriously reviewed SHARPS’ demands it should have contact SHARPS first before it contacted the press.
Once again, SHARPS calls on Samsung to sincerely negotiate with us.
A proposal by Sim Sang-jung, lawmaker of the Justice Party, calls for a third party-brokered compensation scheme. The proposal clearly included our demands on compensation, and called for Samsung’s clear response. The proposal made clear that the third part is SHARPS and called on Samsung to negotiate in good faith.
We demand the following:
First, Samsung management should officially respond to the list of demands we made in our December letter.
Second, Samsung should not stop short at announcing its unilateral positions and sincerely negotiate with SHARPS to rightly solve the issue of its occupational disease [cluster].
published by SHARPS April 14, 2014