LONDON – A court in Seoul, South Korea, has ordered that Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. pay compensation to the families of two young employees who died of leukemia, according to the Yonhap news agency. The amount of compensation to be paid was not given in the report.
However, the same court dismissed three other claims – one from the family of dead worker and two from former employees now suffering with lymphoma and leukemia, who had worked at other Samsung manufacturing sites.
Samsung has denied that its production lines increase the likelihood of contracting cancer and refused to accept the court ruling, according to the Yonhap report. A previous state agency investigation had found Samsung was not responsible, the report quoted a Samsung spokesman as saying.
"As the ruling is not final, we will try to clear suspicions through continuing trials," the report quoted spokesman Park Chun-ho as saying.
The judgments come after lobbying groups across Asia came together in 2010 to launch the "Samsung Accountability Campaign" with the claim that they had discovered an unusual cluster of cancers amongst Samsung fab workers.
The Seoul Administrative Court ruled in favor of the families of two workers who worked cleaning wafers on a production line in Gyeonggi Province. The families had requested the court annul a 2009 decision by the Korea Workers' Compensation & Welfare Services not to pay compensation and funeral expenses for the deaths, the report said.
Not the first such allegations.
National Semiconductor at Greenock in Scotland was subject of similar allegations but no study or court found that National Semiconductor had done wrong.
There was a groundwater contamination case in Silicon Valley dating back to the 1970s and early 1980s and a separate long-running legal battle between some workers and IBM.
Finding or disproving an underlying problem may not be easy.
If the work flow, physical layout, equipment and chemicals in use have all been changed since the unfortunate deaths of Hwang and Lee then investigations start to depend on hearsay and records which may be incomplete or inaccurate.
Both the employer and employee are careless. Any disease due to environment will not strike at once. It gives lot of symptoms. These symptoms to be monitored by themselves and the employer for those who work in the hazardous places. Because life is only one for every human.
If there is an issue like this, it would be in the interest of Samsung to find root causes, address it honestly and solve it. After all they should not remain in the market for wrong reasons and even if 10% of this is true no one would willingly want to work in those facilities.
There are so many Fabs in existence for years and this looks to be the first of its kind of allegations on the working environment of a fab such as to cause cancer like deadly disease. An independent survey is needed to find out if such possibility exists at all these fabs around the world. This will help these fabs in avoiding such dangers to their employees in future.
This is a very sensitive issue. I don't know based on what kind of investigation the court passed the order. Samsung should take this seriously and if they don't agree with court's judgment, they should at least propose for an independent authority to investigate if there are any health & safety hazard that might exist at their manufacturing setup. If the issues are found, then they should correct it and pay for it. My sympathy goes with the family of those deceased employees.
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