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

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.


British Airways burning through cash, CEO urges unions to engage

Updated 04 June 2020

British Airways burning through cash, CEO urges unions to engage

  • Job losses necessary as cash reserves of IAG, British Airways’ parent company, would not last forever

LONDON: The boss of British Airways said its parent company IAG was burning through $223 million a week and could not guarantee its survival, prompting him to urge unions to engage over 12,000 job cuts.
British Airways came under heavy attack from lawmakers in parliament on Wednesday, who accused it of taking advantage of a government scheme to protect jobs while at the same time announcing plans to cut its workforce by 28 percent.
Planes were grounded in March due to coronavirus restrictions, forcing many airlines to cut thousands of staff as they struggle without revenues. Airlines serving Britain now face an additional threat from a 14-day quarantine rule.
In an internal letter to staff seen by Reuters, Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways said the job losses were necessary as IAG’s cash reserves would not last forever and the future was one of more competition for fewer customers.
BA also wants to change terms and conditions for its remaining workers to give it more flexibility by, for example, making all crew fly both short and long-haul.
Cruz said IAG, which also owns Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, was getting through $223 million a week, meaning that it could not just sit out the crisis. The group had €10 billion of liquidity at the end of April.
“BA does not have an absolute right to exist. There are major competitors poised and ready to take our business,” Cruz said in the letter.
He urged two unions which represent cabin crew and other staff, GMB and Unite, to join in discussions to mitigate proposed redundancies. Pilots union BALPA is “working constructively” with the airline, he added.
Cruz also joined other airline bosses in criticizing Britain’s quarantine rule, due to come into effect on June 8, calling it “another blow to our industry.”