Samsung agrees to accept arbitration over leukemia cases


The long-lasting dispute over Samsung Electronics’ alleged unsafe working conditions that may have caused over hundreds of its employees to contract incurable diseases such as leukemia has come to an end as the company decided to accept arbitration proposals unconditionally, Samsung said Sunday.

A Samsung Electronics spokesman said it notified the mediation committee that the company will accept the upcoming proposal from the committee unconditionally. Banolim, an advocacy group representing some families of Samsung Electronics employees, who died from alleged work related illnesses including leukemia, also agreed to accept the proposal the same day.

Led by a former justice Kim Ji-hyung, the mediation committee suggested to Samsung and its former employees and their families Wednesday that it would come up with a final decision within two months. After the committee was formed in 2014 it made its first proposal in 2015 but the two sides failed to reach an agreement.

“We notified the mediation committee of our intention to accept the planned proposal without any conditions,” the Samsung spokesman said.

If the two sides make a final decision within two months it means the long-running dispute over compensation settlements will come to an end.

The committee is expected to come up with a new proposal for both sides. For Samsung, the proposal may address Samsung’s formal apology, new compensation plans and its commitment to prevent further industrial illness. For Banolim, the new proposal may demand the advocacy group end its sit-in in front of the company’s headquarters in Seoul that has continued for more than 1,000 days.

Industry watchers presume the decision to accept the planned arbitration proposal unconditionally fully reflects the company’s vice chairman Lee Jae-yong’s will as he has emphasized taking a long-term approach to deal with issues the company has faced.

The Samsung spokesman declined to comment but added the decision cannot be made without Lee’s endorsement. “This is an issue that cannot be passed without the vice chairman’s approval,” the spokesman said.

The dispute came into the spotlight when a former Samsung semiconductor worker Hwang Yu-mi died from leukemia in 2007 at the age of 22. Since then the advocacy group has protested against Samsung at the company’s Seoul office for over 1,000 days. Over 300 employees at Samsung’s semiconductor and LCD factories reported that they developed diseases and 118 of them died, but Samsung has denied any links.


By Baek Byung-yeul

(Korea Times)

Search in Site