SAMSUNG HAS APOLOGISED for illnesses and deaths suffered by some of its workers, admitting that it failed to create a safe working environment at its semiconductor and display factories.
Kim Ki-nam, head of Samsung's semiconductor business, said: "We sincerely apologise to the workers who suffered from illness and their families. We have failed to properly manage health risks at our semiconductor and LCD factories."
The firm's long-awaited apology comes after the company and a group representing Samsung workers agreed to accept the firm's compensation terms.
Samsung has agreed to pay up to 150m won (£103,000) to people affected by the problems, it announced earlier this month.
The standoff began in 2007 when the father of Hwang Yumi, a 27-year-old Samsung employee who died of Leukemia, refused to accept a settlement from Samsung. Instead, he has long sought to get justice for others believed to have been afflicted the same way as a result of chemicals used in South Korean tech plants.
Hwang Sang-ki runs the Supporters for the Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry (SHARPS) and has been on his mission for the past eleven years.
SHARPS believes there is a direct link between Samsung and a rise in the number of cases of significant diseases like MS and cancer; the group says that 320 employees at Samsung have developed illnesses after being exposed to toxic chemicals at in its chip factories, and claim 118 people died as a result.
"It is truly deplorable that the issues of workers having fallen ill and died from on-the-job chemical exposure remained unsolved for more than ten long years," Hwang said, adding, "just because they were poor ones without money and power."
"No amount of apology will be enough to heal all the insults, the pain of industrial injuries and the suffering of losing one's family.'
Chemical leaks are not uncommon in semiconductor factories, with Intel construction leading 11 to be hospitalised in 2013, the same year that one worker died and four were injured in a gas leak at a Samsung plant. μ
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