On May 28, an eight-member delegation of SHARPS, led by Hwang Sang-ki, father of a Samsung leukemia victim, met with a new delegation of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
A delegation of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. met with SHARPS representatives May 28–for the first time since five and half months ago when the world’s largest technology company walked out of the first talk on the pretext that the advocate’s lack of standing as rightful negotiator over the blood-disease cluster at a number of its plants.
The May 28 resumption of talks is itself a milestone for SHARPS, one reached six years after Hwang Sang-ki filed for posthumous workers’ compensation for his daughter Yumi. She died in March 2007 after two years of suffering from leukemia she contracted while working at a Samsung chip plant. The father’s lone fight led to sympathetic public doctors, activists and labor attorneys forming SHARPS in November 2007.
“At first, Samsung thwarted attempts [by victims] to file for worker compensation. It said there were no [occupational disease] victims [at Samsung].” Mr. Hwang, who now heads an eight-member SHARPS delegation, said ahead of the meeting with Samsung. “The most important is Samsung’s sincerity.”
“Samsung was not expressing a sincere attitude when it said it would negotiate with us while it still quelling workers’ attempts at unionization at Samsung Everland and Samsung Electronics Service,” Mr. Hwang said, citing the conglomerate’s ongoing efforts to crush labor representation at its affiliates and supply chain.
Civilian and Criminal Charges Dropped
In a statement released after the meeting, SHARPS said the two parties agreed to the following: “First, both parties will negotiate in earnest over a comprehensive scheme to prevent the recurrence [of occupational disease] and to apologize and compensate [the victims.] Second, the next negotiation will be scheduled at the working levels of both parties. And third, Samsung will as soon as possible cancel civilian and criminal charges against SHARPS activists and families of the victims in connection with their rallies and protests.”
“Just a Beginning”
“The new Samsung delegation listened carefully to what families of the victims had to say,” SHARPS said in the statement. “Co-President Lee Yin-yong repeatedly apologized for the posturing Samsung had to date taken.” Mr. Lee, not related to the founding Lee family of the Samsung conglomerate, is the company’s chief spokesperson and heads the delegation.
“This is just a beginning,” SHARPS said. “Samsung should review our demands in good faith, and prepare comprehensive responses.”