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Archive for June, 2017

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Stories from the Cleanroom, a new documentary on Samsung’s occupational-disease, cluster on June 20 premiered at S. Korea’s National Assembly.  The film centers on about 20  victims and their families.

A new documentary on the agonies of victims of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.’s blood-disorder cluster has chosen an unusual venue for its premiere:  South Korea’s National Assembly hall.

On June 20, 2017 the new film, Stories from the Cleanroom, had its premiere, hosted by the euljiro committee, a caucus of young legislators of the ruling Minjoo Party that focuses on labor and small-business issues.

Stories from the Cleanroom, produced jointly by SHARPS and the anti-toxic waste global network IPEN, features twenty separate interviews with infirm victims and their next-of-kin as well as families of the deceased ones.

An excerpt of the film is available here.

Intense Film

For Samsung’s cluster victims, the word “cleanroom” is something of a misnomer because such rooms were designed to keep clean the electronic components they assembled while the workers are exposed to toxic chemicals.  The same is true of their cleansuits designed to keep the products dirt-free, not humans who make them.

Some victims and surviving family members attended the premiere, which was followed by a panel discussion with three lawmakers of euljiro.

“The film itself is intense,” said Joseph DiGangi, senior science and technical adviser with the IPEN, who attended the premiere on the organization’s behalf.  “Imagine sitting in a room full of former workers and surviving family members who appear in the film while watching it in a quiet dark room with people sniffing and wiping their eyes.”

Stunning Premiere

“The premiere stunned the lawmakers,” added DiGangi. “The National Assembly location gave it a gravitas that increased the impact even more.”

After ten years of campaigning, on May 8, SHARPS prized open the gate of the country’s legislature as the then-would ruling Minjoo Party agreed to a four-point policy framework urging Samsung to resume dialogue with the advocacy group.

While the framework was the first-ever pledge by the ruling party on Samsung’s negligence in workers safety, it is also true that it was led by euljiro, a tiny faction, during the election cycle.

“The Minjoo Party and euljiro will be with you,” Lee Hack-young, an euljiro lawmaker said in a tweet after the premiere, “recognizing that human life is more important than corporate profit.”

There is little reason for SHARPS to ratchet down the pressure on the new ruling party which has a mixed record at best on disciplining Samsung and other big corporations.

An English-subtitled version of Stories from the Cleanroom will be available by August 2017.

Stolen Donation Box

On June 23 night, a donation box at SHARPS’s sit-in was stolen.  SHARPS called police, who said they would check CCTV footage in the area.  Samsung’s own CCTVs watch the sit-in from every possible angle, and its security guards set points around SHARPS’s canopy. 

Samsung would unlikely assist the police’s investigations.  However, you can help SHARPS.  You can wire your donations to the following account:

Account Holder:  SHARPS

Account Holder’s Contact Number: 82 2 3496 5067

Bank: Kookmin Bank

Bank Address: 64-140 Sadang 2Dong, Seoul, 156-814, Korea

Account Number: 043901-04-206831

SWIFT Code: CZNBKRSE

SHARPS’s Sit-in Continues

Since Oct. 7, 2015, SHARPS and its supporters have been staging a sit-in at Samsung D’light, the company’s so-called global exhibition space in south Seoul, calling for the world’s largest technology company to:  1) compensate all victims of occupational disease transparently and sufficiently; and 2) make a sincere and full apology.

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KimMi

The KCOMWEL has appeal a court order to grant workers compensation to Kim Mi-seon (in the picture), a former Samsung employee suffering from multiple sclerosis, while it recently decided to not appeal a decision in favor of workers comp claims by  another former Samsung employee who fell victim to the same condition.

South Korea’s workers compensation agency has decided against appealing a higher-court order to grant workers compensation benefits to a Samsung cluster victim, a rare move for the agency which often does not approve workers comp claims until claimants exhaust their legal recourse.

Window To Appeal

As of June 17, the KCOMWEL passed up a three-week window to appeal a May 26 higher-court ruling that reversed a lower court decision and ordered the agency to approve workers compensation for Lee So-jeong ( a pseudonym at her request).  The 33-year-old former chip-line operator of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. fell victim to multiple sclerosis in 2008, about three years after she resigned from the company where she began to work at the age of 19.

Six Years of Waiting

The KCOMWEL’s procrastination and the ensuing courtroom tit-for-tat meant that Yi had to wait for six years to receive workers compensation for the condition of which she had no family history and that is so rare that it only affects 3.5 in every 100,000 Koreans.

Samsung is an enabler of the KCOMWEL’s negligence as it routinely withholds information on chemicals used in chip production on the pretext of trade secrecy.  Regulators and courts often remain complacent even as years of procedural and legal runaround frequently ruin already-vulnerable cluster victims financially and emotionally.

Victim of Bureaucratic Runaround

The case in point:  Kim Mi-seon, is a 37-year-old former Samsung worker and a victim of multiple sclerosis.  In Feb. 2017, the KCOMWEL appealed a ruling in favor of her workers comp claims.  Her earlier legal victory could have been a landmark.  Kim was the first victim from Samsung’s LCD unit to have successfully claimed workers comp, after, in 2012-2014, the agency and the court denied three co-workers workers comp.

Now wheelchair-ridden and legally blind, Kim has also imploded financially to the point that SHARPS had to organize an urgent fund drive in April-May of 2017 to help her to pay some of overdue medical expenses.

In Nov. 2014 and Jan. 2016, the workers comp agency appealed two separate rulings in favor of two women victims assisted by SHARPS.

SHARPS’s Sit-in Continues

Since Oct. 7, 2015, SHARPS and its supporters have been staging a sit-in at Samsung D’light, the company’s so-called global exhibition space in south Seoul, calling for the world’s largest technology company to:  1) compensate all victims of occupational disease transparently and sufficiently; and 2) make a sincere and full apology.

 

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Ipen

Source: IPEN website

 

Five global worker-safety advocacy groups have released a joint statement urging South Korea’s governing party to promptly act on its agreement with SHARPS.

“The recent framework agreement signed by the Minjoo Party and SHARPS provides key objectives for worker safety policies,” said the five groups in the joint statement on June 15, 2017, pointing to the framework agreement that the party and SHARPS signed on May 7, two days before Minjoo candidate Moon Jae-in won the presidency in a snap election.

Act now

“We encourage the Minjoo Party to begin work to concretize this framework as soon as possible,” said the groups, led by the IPEN, a global anti-industrial waste network.  “In particular, point one dealing with the negotiations between SHARPS and Samsung should be addressed immediately.”

The following are full texts of the joint statement and the framework agreement:

To the Minjoo Party of Korea:

We represent international networks that have been focusing for many years on human rights, occupational health and environmental health in the global electronics industry. We stand in solidarity with SHARPS during their historic 600+ day sit-in at Samsung.

The recent framework agreement signed by the Minjoo Party and SHARPS (see below) provides key objectives for worker safety policies including right-to-know, protecting sub-contractor workers, and strengthening enforcement and penalties to increase corporate accountability.

We encourage the Minjoo Party to begin work to concretize this framework as soon as possible. In particular, point one dealing with the negotiations between SHARPS and Samsung should be addressed immediately to facilitate an appropriate solution to the issue of Samsung’s occupational disease issues which have been documented by SHARPS, in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and in several UN reports submitted to the Human Rights Council. Comprehensive implementation of the Minjoo Party – SHARPs framework agreement could make a significant contribution to worker safety in the electronics industry and help advance global standards.

Signed,

Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) 

Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV)

GoodElectronics Network (GE)

International Campaign for Responsible Technology (ICRT)

IPEN

 

Minjoo Party – SHARPS Framework Agreement

  1. The Minjoo Party empathizes with SHARPS for taking issue with Samsung’s own compensation scheme and will put efforts into having negotiations resumed between Samsung and SHARPS in order to seek a rightful solution to the issue of Samsung worker’s occupational diseases.

  2. The Minjoo Party will put efforts into improving statutes that strengthen civil and criminal penalties against corporations for serious and/or frequent industrial accidents for employers and for covering up such accidents.

  3. The Minjoo Party will put efforts into preventing the outsourcing of risk by strengthening penalties for safety and public-health violations throughout the supply chain.

  4. The Minjoo Party will put efforts into developing a transparent disclosure process for hazardous chemicals to better hold employers accountable and to ensure employees’ right to know about their exposure to industrial safety risks.

SHARPS’s Sit-in Continues 

Since Oct. 7, 2015, SHARPS and its supporters have been staging a sit-in at Samsung D’light, the company’s so-called global exhibition space in south Seoul, calling for the world’s largest technology company to:  1) compensate all victims of occupational disease transparently and sufficiently; and 2) make a sincere and full apology.

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Sharron

On May 29, 2017, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC, spoke at a teach-in in front of SHARPS’s sit-in.

As SHARPS’ sit-in has surpassed the 600 day mark, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, visited the very site where families of Samsung’s cluster victims and SHARPS advocates have been squatting in protest of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. for scuppering negotiations.

Solidary of 180 Million Workers Worldwide

“Thanks for your amazing tenacity in holding this company [Samsung] to account,” Burrow greeted SHARPS activists and supporters on May 29, 2017 evening, as SHARPS was about to wrap up the 601st day of its sit-in.  “I am bringing with me the solidarity of 180 million workers around the world.”

Corporate Empire Built on Lies

Burrow focused her 30-minute talk on Samsung’s vast global supply chains, which are plagued by rampant violations of labor and human rights.

“When you look at Samsung, it was, in fact, already based on lies,” the ITUC general secretary said, pointing to the ITUC’s findings: Samsung relies on multi-layered, complex supply chains to hire casual workforces globally.  Samsung said there were 320 thousand workers in its supply chains.  However, the ITUC found there were 1.5 million globally, many of them working on short-term contracts for sub-subsistence wages.

On May 30, in a meeting with South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, Burrow raised the issue of SHARPS with him, along with other major labor concerns regarding South Korea.

Higher Court:  Samsung Victim’s Multiple Sclerosis Is Occupationally Caused

In a rare turnaround, Seoul’s higher court reversed a lower-court decision and declared a Samsung victim’s multiple sclerosis occupationally caused.  The ruling was the first of its kind for an occupational-disease victim who worked at Samsung’s chip line.  Earlier in Feb. 2017, a lower court ruled a Samsung LCD worker’s multiple sclerosis was occupationally caused.

The Lack of Information

The victim, 33 year-old Lee So-jeong (a pseudonym at her request), began to work at Samsung’s semiconductor lab in 2003 when she was only 18 years old.  She resigned in 2005 as her health declined.  In 2008, she began to suffer from partial facial paralysis, which led to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

In 2013, after KCOMWEL rejected her workers compensation claim, citing the lack of information of chemicals involved and her short employment time, Lee filed an administrative lawsuit.  And the lower court reiterated KCOMWEL’s reasoning.

Samsung often frustrates legal proceedings by its occupational-disease victims by withholding information on chemical material on the pretext of trade secrecy.  And regulators and courts have to date remained complacent, allowing such maneuvers.

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A new report  is now available for download on multiple methanol-caused vision losses at Samsung’s and LG’s supply chains.

New Report on Samsung’s and LG’s Supply Chains

Solidary for Workers’ Health, a Seoul-based labor health advocacy group, published an English-language report on methanol-caused vision-impairments that last year affected at least six of Samsung’s and LG Electronics’ subcontractor workers.

The report, The Blind—A Report on Methanol Poisoning Cases in Supply Changes for Samsung and LG Electronics in Korea can be downloaded in PDF at http://laborhealth.or.kr/43375.

SHARPS’s Sit-in Continues 

Since Oct. 7, 2015, SHARPS and its supporters have been staging a sit-in at Samsung D’light, the company’s so-called global exhibition space in south Seoul, calling for the world’s largest technology company to:  1) compensate all victims of occupational disease transparently and sufficiently; and 2) make a sincere and full apology.

Read Full Post »