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Archive for March 5th, 2019

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On March 4, 2019, with SHARPS’s assistance, 14 occupational disease victims of Samsung collectively petitioned for workers compensation.

A majority of more than 200 new occupational-disease cases from Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and its affiliates are not covered by the compensation program that the conglomerate launched last year as part of arbitration with SHARPS, the labor advocacy group found.

New Victims

During the three months since the launch of the compensation scheme in Nov. 2018, SHARPS profiled 206 occupational disease victims from Samsung and a variety of its related companies or contractors, about 450 victims were profiled over the course of 11 years between 2007 and 2018, said the advocacy group in a press release on March 4.

About 127, or about 62 percent of the new victims, won’t benefit from the current compensation program because their diseases or workplaces are not stipulated to be covered by the program.  Also, on what appears to be a technicality, their diagnoses fell outside the timeframe covered by the program.

 

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Falling Through the Cracks

Among such victims is Hong Kyong-hwa, 53 years old, who worked at a Samsung semiconductor lab in 1988-1992.  In 1997, about five years after her resignation from the company, she was diagnosed with lupus, the disease that was such a rarity it was scantly documented at that time in South Korea.  In 2018, about 22 years after her departure from Samsung, Hong was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She could not be compensated for either disease because she was not diagnosed with lupus within five years after her departure and with breast cancer within 15 years to be eligible for the compensation scheme.

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Cho Seong-kwan, 43 years old, worked in a Samsung home appliance unit between 1998 and 2006.  In 2003, he received bone marrow transplants after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  He has since suffered chronic depression.  However, Hwang is not entitled to compensation under the program because his workplace is not within its scope which only includes semiconductor and LCD units.

Likewise, a 31-year-old researcher, identified by his surname Hwang, who died of leukemia three years of on-the-job chemical exposure at Samsung SDI, is not eligible because his company is not covered under the scheme.

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Shift in Focus  

In a shift in focus, SHARPS is diversifying beyond holding Samsung directly responsible, by initiating campaigns to strengthen regulations to thwart workplace hazards and corporate abuse.  “Legislation must be strengthened to heavily penalize corporations when there are workplace fatalities,” weekly Hankyoreh 21 quoted Hwang Sang-ki, a SHARPS founder, as saying.

SHARPS will proactively assist the victims ineligible for the Samsung plan in petitioning for workers compensation, Kong Jeong-ok, a medical doctor and a SHARPS founder, told the liberal weekly magazine.

On March 4, with SHARPS’s assistance, 14 victims collectively filed for workers compensation.

As of March 2019, SHARPS has profiled 616 occupational-disease victims of Samsung and other electronics makers. Among them, only 137 received workers compensation while 185 died.

 

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