Samsung apologizes over sicknesses, deaths of some workers

Kinam Kim, the president of Samsung’s device solutions division, said the company failed to ‘sufficiently manage health threats’ at its semiconductor and liquid crystal display manufacturing lines. (AP)
Updated 23 November 2018
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Samsung apologizes over sicknesses, deaths of some workers

  • Dozens of employees who worked there have experienced grave illnesses such as leukemia and brain tumor
  • Samsung will compensate for various illnesses of employees who have worked at its chip and LCD factories since 1984

SEOUL, South Korea: Samsung Electronics on Friday apologized for the sickness and deaths of some of its workers, saying it failed to create a safe working environment at its computer chip and display factories.
The announcement by the South Korean technology giant came weeks after the company and a group representing ailing Samsung workers agreed to accept compensation terms suggested by a mediator and end a highly-publicized standoff that went on for more than a decade. The company’s apology was part of the settlement.
Kinam Kim, president of Samsung’s device solutions division, said the company failed to “sufficiently manage health threats” at its semiconductor and liquid crystal display manufacturing lines. Dozens of employees who worked there have experienced grave illnesses such as leukemia and brain tumor.
“We offer our sincere apology to our workers who have suffered with illnesses and their families,” Kim said during a news conference in Seoul, which was also attended by activists and relatives of the workers.
The standoff began in 2007 when taxi driver Hwang Sang-gi refused to accept a settlement after his 23-year-old daughter died of leukemia after working at a Samsung factory. Hwang’s efforts to clarify the cause of Yu-mi’s death and hold Samsung responsible for problems related to working conditions galvanized a broader movement to hold businesses and the government accountable for safety lapses in the chip and display industries, which use huge amounts of chemicals.
“No apology would be enough when considering the deception and humiliation we experienced (from Samsung) over the past 11 years, the pain of suffering from occupational diseases, the pain of losing loved ones,” Hwang said at the news conference. “But I take today’s apology as a promise from Samsung Electronics,” to improve the safety of its workplaces, he said.
According to the settlement, Samsung will compensate for various illnesses of employees who have worked at its chip and LCD factories since 1984, including as much as 150 million won ($132,000) for leukemia. The compensation also covers miscarriages and congenital illnesses of the workers’ children such as child cancer.
But while cutting a deal to end the standoff and loosely admitting to lapses in safety standards, Samsung has yet to fully acknowledge its workplace environment as the direct cause of the illnesses.


Saudi Arabia’s consumer prices fall in April, fourth month in a row

Updated 49 min 4 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s consumer prices fall in April, fourth month in a row

  • Economists still expect deflation in 2019 after prices rose throughout 2018
  • The International Monetary Fund projects GDP growth of 1.9 percent

DUBAI: Saudi Arabian consumer prices fell 1.9 percent year-on-year in April for the fourth month in a row but were unchanged from March, data from the General Authority for Statistics showed.
The annual declines in the consumer price index are partly a consequence of a base effect that raised prices last year after the introduction in January 2018 of a 5% value-added tax (VAT), economists have said.
The annual fall in the CPI index, however, narrowed from March when the index had dropped 2.1 percent. Some economists see the narrowing of deflation as a sign that Saudi Arabia is having some success in boosting its non-oil sector, while global oil prices have remained under pressure in recent years.
“The further easing of deflation in Saudi Arabia in April suggests that stronger activity in the non-oil sector at the start of this year is (finally) feeding through to a pick-up in price pressures,” said Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in a note.
Economists still expect deflation in 2019 after prices rose throughout 2018 following the introduction of the VAT, which was imposed to boost non-oil revenue in response to a long-term drop in oil prices.
Capital Economics expect Saudi CPI to fall 1.3 percent in 2019, while Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s projects the CPI index to decline 0.9 percent this year.
“The big picture remains that the unwinding impact of tax and administered price hikes implemented in early 2018 has revealed the weakness of underlying inflation in the kingdom,” Tuvey said.
After contracting in 2017, the economy grew 2.2 percent last year, but is forecast to grow more modestly this year.
The International Monetary Fund projects GDP growth of 1.9 percent, buoyed by an expansion of the non-oil economy as the government steps up spending. Y
The central bank chief said in February, when asked if he expected deflation this year, that he expected consumer demand and real estate loans would stave it off.
Credit grew in the first quarter by more than 3 percent, its fastest pace in more than two years, fueled by a jump in mortgages and in loans to small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Tuesday’s data showed the sub-index for housing, water, electricity, gas and fuel prices down 7.8 percent from a year earlier. The sub-index had fallen 8.1 percent in March.
Prices for food and drinks, however, rose 1 percent and prices for education rose 1.3 percent.