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Samsung set for compensation talks over staff death claims

Toxic gases in chip plants caused leukaemia, says group

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Samsung looks close to concluding a six-year dispute over conditions in the firm’s chip plants, which have been blamed for scores of worker deaths from leukemia and other diseases.

The Supporters for the Health And Rights of People in the Semiconductor industry (SHARPS), which represents the ill workers and family members, held a press conference outside the electronics giant’s Seoul offices on Tuesday, according to Yonhap.

The group released the following brief statement:

"We formally accept Samsung's proposal to start negotiations on compensation. SHARPS will be committed to resolving and preventing the occupational disease issue and hopes Samsung Electronics will also take a responsible stance in the talks."

SHARPS claims there is a direct link between the toxic gases used in Samsung's plants and reports of workers developing leukaemia, lymphoma, brain tumours and other illnesses. SHARPS claims that until recently workers in Samsung chip plants were exposed to the gases without sufficient protection.

The group alleged there have been a total of 160 such victims including 60 deaths.

Until now, Samsung has refused to acknowledge such a link and in 2011 commissioned US consultancy Environ to investigate the situation. The firm subsequently found “no correlation between the workplace environment and employee illness”.

That same year, however, the Korean giant did shift its stance slightly.

Without admitting liability, Samsung decided to offer employees a medical package including 10 years of cancer treatment if they were diagnosed within three years of finishing work at one of its LCD or semiconductor plants.

Samsung couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but the firm has recently come under increasing scrutiny from various groups alleging labour rights abuses.

In November last year it was forced to issue a statement saying it would take "corrective actions" after an internal audit uncovered abuses at supplier plants. ®

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