Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. has launched a website for individual occupational-disease victims seeking compensation from the company, hammering a nail in the coffin of prospects for sufficient payouts for the company’s victims, and for publicly verifiable safety measures to keep future tragedies from happening.
“Compensation will be made based on principles and criteria little changed from the recommendations made by the Mediation Committee July 23,” Samsung said Sept 18 in a press release announcing the website’s launch. However, nothing can be further from the truth. Here are the details of Samsung’s scheme:
- Samsung is accepting petitions for compensation only by year-end, preempting future victims who would be diagnosed with an occupational disease after a lengthy latency period;
- Samsung employees who departed from the company before Jan. 1, 1996 are not eligible to compensation although they more likely worked under more hazardous working conditions;
- Samsung narrowly and vaguely defines “eligible contract workers” as ones “regularly doing certain particular jobs as part of regular contractors in residence,” making it possible for it to arbitrarily deny compensation;
- Samsung ditches a recommendation by the Mediation Committee by not compensating for miscarriages or infertility—despite the facts that: 1) it is widely confirmed in many studies that working in semiconductor labs would increase the possibility of such abnormalities; and 2) the company says it will compensate victims even when there is no clear causal link between their diseases and working conditions.
- Samsung reduces the eligible latency period for breast cancer, brain tumors, leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myelomatosis to ten years from the Mediation Committee’s recommended fourteen years;
- Samsung pays compensation after deducting any form of payout made to the victim related to his occupational disease such as post-employment medical and funeral subsidies; and
- All in all, Samsung’s scheme lacks transparency and accountability in determining payouts.
With the compensation scheme, Samsung believes it can deal a blow to the eight-year campaign by SHARPS for the occupational disease victims. Five of the six families of the Settlement Committee, a group split from SHARPS on Aug. 14, have agreed to the compensation scheme. Some of these families have begun to contact other victim families, most of whom in dire economic need, to bring them into the scheme.
As of date, SHARPS has profiled 293 former Samsung workers who contracted some form of blood disorder. One hundred and six of them are now dead.