SEOUL, Oct. 24 (Korea Bizwire) — The settlement process to resolve the dispute between Samsung Electronics Co. and its former employees suffering from work-related illnesses is behind schedule, industry sources said Wednesday, apparently as their mediation committee is still contemplating details on compensation.
In July, South Korea’s top chipmaker and an advocacy group representing victims of work-related diseases, the Supporters for the Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry (SHARPS), inked an agreement to unconditionally accept a mediation on the contentious issue that has not been settled in over 10 years.
The mediation was supposed to be delivered by an independent committee led by former Justice Kim Ji-hyung between late September and early October.
Sources with knowledge of the matter, however, said the committee recently notified the two parties on Oct. 12 that it will delay the announcement, claiming it needs more time to come up with more “reasonable and objective” results.
The committee said it plans to make the announcement at end-October.
The standoff involving the South Korean tech giant first surfaced when Hwang Yu-mi, who worked for Samsung’s chip production line, died of leukemia in 2007. SHARPS claim that as of June 2018 there were 320 victims who suffered from work-related illnesses after being employed by Samsung, with 118 of them already having passed away.
Victims have been claiming that Samsung should give compensation, apologize and come up with measures to prevent further outbreaks. Industry watchers said the mediation apparently faced hurdles in setting compensation.
The two parties currently claim that their willingness to accept the final result without any conditions still stands firm.
Samsung Electronics started direct talks with the advocacy group in 2013, with Samsung Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun apologizing in 2014. The two parties, however, failed to reach an agreement, with the first mediation announced in July 2015 ending without making any progress.
In September 2015, the tech giant set up a fund estimated at 100 billion won (US$87.9 million) and started its own compensation program for victims independent of SHARPS.
The advocacy group, on the other hand, has refused to accept the compensation and started an indefinite protest in front of Samsung Group’s main office in Seoul.