SEOUL, Jan. 14 (Korea Bizwire) – Samsung Electronics Co. said Thursday it has delivered a letter of apology to the families of its workers who fell ill or died from working at its facilities, claiming that the eight-year-long dispute has came to an end.
“On Thursday, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun met with leukemia patients and delivered consolation. There, the company also gave a letter of apology under the CEO’s name,” Samsung Electronics said.
“There was carelessness in acknowledging the sadness, and we regret not resolving the issue earlier,” the letter said.
The gathering was held with Samsung Electronics and the families’ committee, one of two representatives of the victims. The other group was not included in Thursday’s meeting.
Controversy over Samsung’s responsibility for its workers’ illnesses erupted in 2007 after Hwang Yu-mi, a former employee at Samsung’s chipmaking facility south of Seoul, died of leukemia.
Samsung Electronics said following the apology, the prolong leukemia debate has come to an end.
Samsung’s full-fledged efforts to settle the issue started in May 2014, when the tech giant officially promised compensation for the deaths and suffering of the victims for the first time.
The victims and the company have been struggling to narrow differences in three areas: apology, compensation, and efforts to prevent work-related disasters.
Samsung, the world’s leading maker of memory chips, smartphones and TVs, has been compensating the victims since September, with the number of recipients reaching more than 100 as of this month.
Earlier this week, Samsung and the victims also agreed to set up an independent body in charge of checking working conditions at its facilities as part of efforts to better prevent them.
The Protector of Health and Human Rights of Semiconductor Workers, an advocacy group for the victims, however, said Samsung’s remarks were “unacceptable.”
“Samsung Electronics must give compensation and apologies that the victims agree with,” said Lim Ja-woon, a lawyer who works for the group, told Yonhap News Agency. The organization, locally called Banolim, is also one of two representatives of the victims.
Banolim claims Samsung’s compensation procedures lack transparency, adding that the company also does not acknowledge the relation between the working conditions and the outbreak of diseases. The South Korean tech giant said it is scientifically complicated to verify such claims.
The group said that more than 200 employees at its chip and display production lines are suffering from work-related diseases, with the death toll reaching 76 as of this month.
The figure has not been officially verified, although Banolim alleges the actual numbers are higher. The group has been staging a sit-down near the Samsung Group’s Seoul-based headquarters since October of last year.’