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South Korean ex-workers file for industrial disease claims

Posted: 10 Nov 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronics? Samsung? South Korea? industrial? disease?

Four electronics companies in South Korea are in hot water over occupational disease claims. On Oct. 28, 19 workers and relatives of ex-staffers who were stricken with incurable diseases while they were employed in the companies filed for industrial accident compensation, Business Korea reported.

According to the report, nine of the applicants had worked for Samsung Semiconductor; three were from Samsung LCD; two were from Samsung Electro-Mechanics; and one was from Samsung Electronics' IT and mobile division. In addition, two of the remaining applicants previously worked for LG Display; one applicant was from Seoul Semiconductor, and the last applicant was from SK Hynix.

There have been a total of 67 applications filed since June 2007, Business Korea stated. The claims were filed via Banolim, an organisation representing semiconductor manufacturing workers.

Eight of the applicants are suffering from haematological cancer or a disease similar to it, while the others have brain tumours, breast cancer, and acute renal failure, among other ailments. According to a Banolim representative, the workers had been exposed to carcinogensbenzene, formaldehyde, epoxy and radiationin their work environments.

[In related news: Apple supplier's China factory: Hazard to workers' safety?]

Last October, Korea Joongang Daily reported that Samsung will compensate all of its leukaemia-stricken employees. The tech giant made the confirmation after a series of meetings with a group of six relatives of the ill employees. The relatives broke away from Banolim during the stalled negotiations in early 2014, formed their own committee and had been in negotiations with Samsung since then.

Banolim has been asking Samsung to identify the chemicals used on its semiconductor line and to form a chemical safety committee inside the company's factory, but the tech giant has rejected the proposals.

Samsung's health case woes grabbed public attention in 2007 when Hwang Yu-mi died at the age of 23. Hwang had been working at the giant's semiconductor plant in Gi-heung, Gyeonggi, before she contracted an aggressive form of blood cancer known as acute myeloid leukaemia.

According to court documents obtained by Bloomberg, Hwang started working in the Gi-heung factory in 2003, and her job included diffusion and "wet etching" to produce system chips. Two years later, doctors told Hwang and her family that she has leukaemia.

A panel of court judges later found that Hwang had been exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals, fumes and radiation during her eight-hour shifts, Bloomberg reported.

The company denies any direct link between the diseases and its factories.

- Jasmine Solana
??EE Times Asia

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