By Heekyong Yang
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Samsung Electronics <005930.KS> on Friday vowed to compensate by 2028 its local chip and display factory workers who have suffered from work-related illnesses.
The move settles a year-long dispute between the world’s top memory chipmaker and an advocacy group representing sickened workers and their families after the 2007 death of a Samsung chip factory worker with leukemia sparked concerns over working conditions at the South Korean company.
“Our effort was insufficient to better understand the pain affected workers and their families went through,” Samsung Electronics Chief Executive Kim Ki-nam said in a public apology during an event to sign the agreement with the advocacy group.
Following the mediation panel’s decision earlier this month on the case, Samsung will pay up to 150 million won ($132,649.45) for each former and current employee suffering from work-related diseases if they are found to be caused by exposure to harmful chemicals.
All former and current Samsung employees as well as the company’s contractors who worked at Samsung’s semiconductor and display production plants for more than one year since 1984 are eligible to be compensated for their illnesses.
Kim said the company would post its compensation guidelines along with an apology letter by at the end of this month on the company’s website and an independent Seoul-based law firm will conduct the review process for affected workers for their compensation eligibility.
South Korean activist group Sharps claims around 200 workers have fallen ill after working at Samsung plants and 70 of them have died subsequently.
Hwang Sang-ki, founder of Sharps and father of a dead chip factory worker with leukemia, told Reuters that besides those 200 he expected more workers to apply for compensation, but it would take a long medical process to prove their diseases are directly related to the work environment.
Both Samsung and Sharps did not elaborate on the potential size of the total compensation.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Sunil Nair)