The Financial Times Oct 27 ran a report about SHARPS’s ongoing sit-in and the psychological and financial hardships of the victims of Samsung’s occupational disease cluster.
“Seated on a plastic mat near her wheelchair, Han Hye-kyoung cuts a frail figure during her quiet protest at the foot of Samsung Electronics’ 200m-tall glass headquarters in southern Seoul,” FT Seoul bureau chief Simon Mundy said in his report, depicting the sit-in by Ms. Han, now 37 years old, who first developed brain tumors in 1999 when she soldered circuit boards with a lead-based paste at a Samsung plant.
244 Victims and 87 Deaths
“Lawyers campaigning for the workers claim there are 244 victims of rare cancers and other diseases that appear linked to hazardous conditions at Samsung, with 87 deaths,” Mr. Mundy said, citing SHARPS’s data.
“If Samsung doesn’t set up new safety measures, more victims will follow,” Hwang Sang-ki, the father of Hwang Yu-mi, one of the first cluster victims, told FT, explaining why he is protesting Samsung’s scheme to pay victims who agree not to pursue legal action and not to urge the company to institute independently verifiable safety measures.
Shirking Corporate Social Responsibility
“There have been signs of persistent safety flaws at the [Samsung] plants,” noted Mr. Mundy. “After a gas leak killed a worker at a semiconductor plant in 2013, a government investigation found 1,934 regulatory breaches at the factory. Samsung promised urgent improvements, but sustained two more major gas leaks within the next year, one of them fatal.”
“The long-running controversy has threatened the brand power of the world’s biggest electronics company by sales and fueled criticism that South Korea’s dominant chaebol conglomerates have shirked their social responsibilities at home while expanding rapidly abroad,” he concluded.