Statement on Associated Press Article of December 11, 2015

on December 12, 2015
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On Friday, December 11, an article titled “Samsung aid for sick workers comes with conditions, secrecy” was published on AP. We are very disappointed by this article, which does not properly reflect the facts of Samsung’s actions.  This article fails to include much of the information that was shared with the reporter over several hours of meetings.

 

Contrary to the assertions in this article, Samsung is trying to do the right thing to relieve the concerns of patients and their families – specifically, by providing a speedy system for financial support.  We hope to deliver what has been asked of us – which is a timely, comprehensive program to provide sufficient support.

 

In the interests of full transparency, we have decided to publish the following information – much of which was shared with the reporter during our lengthy meetings:

 

According to the article, Samsung is “not conceding a link between the chemicals used in its semiconductor factories and cancer” but this is something that has simply not been scientifically proven despite several studies.

 

Samsung opened its fabrication lines for several research programs, including the epidemiological investigation that was conducted by Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA, 2007~2008) and a research program carried out by Environ on the work environment (2010~2011). We provided all relevant materials and data that were needed to conduct the research. There was also a one yearlong study conducted by external experts at SK Hynix in 2014.  None of the studies found a correlation between the workplace environment and employee illness. Financial support is being provided regardless of causation.

 

The article claims that more than 200 people who worked at Samsung’s semiconductor and LCD factories and suffered chronic illnesses have contacted or sought help from Banolim, but this number is unverified.

 

The numbers Banolim claims – of both the alleged victims and alleged deaths – have never been verified.  Many of these claims are anonymous or are under incomplete names.

 

According to the article, Samsung does not disclose all the chemicals it used, but under law we do disclose all harmful chemicals used in our facilities.

 

According to Korean Law (유해화학물질관리법, TOXIC CHEMICALS CONTROL ACT), companies are to disclose the list of ALL harmful chemicals. Companies are also given strict regulations to safely manage and use these harmful chemicals. Samsung abides to all relevant laws regarding environmental safety at its facilities.

 

Samsung has a dedicated team of more than 500 EHS specialists who oversee our operations and conducts regular inspections. This oversight ensures that each Samsung Electronics facility complies with the most stringent regulations. (For more information, read: Employee Health and Safety at Semiconductor Facilities)

 

The article suggests that Samsung was deficient in monitoring for benzene only after 2012, but benzene has never been used in our facilities and has not been detected since we started monitoring.

 

Benzene was never used in our semiconductor production facilities. The only reason we started monitoring benzene levels was because Seoul National University Professor Dr. Baek Do-myeong, a supporter of Banolim, suggested it could have been linked to employee illnesses.  However, Benzene has not been detected in our facilities since we started monitoring in 2012. (For more information: http://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/minisite/EHS/resource_05_benzene.html)

 

The article expresses opinions that an external organization is necessary but Samsung has set out reasons why this is not the best solution. 

 

First, it is important to acknowledge that Samsung Electronics created a fund of KRW 100 billion ($ 85.8million) which is the amount recommended by the Mediation Committee. We also agreed to the majority of recommended disease categories that will be covered by the fund and the criteria for determining amounts of financial aid. In good faith, we expanded the scope of financial aid by explicitly including retirees who had been employed at our partner companies although these retirees were not specified in the recommendation.

 

We are not funding an independent body as recommended by the Mediation Committee because the incorporation of such an association and its operational costs and other expenses would consume up to 30% of the fund, a sum of KRW 30 billion ($25.2million). Samsung Electronics believes the greatest percentage of the fund possible should be directed toward providing financial aid. For this reason, we believe that it is in the best interest of families and patients to direct more funds to meeting their needs, which cannot be achieved through an independent fund.

 

The involved parties, including patients and their families, also oppose the incorporation of such an association. Specifically, the Family Committee that proposed the creation of the Mediation Committee has objected to the distribution of financial aid through the proposed association, stating to the press as follows; “The attempt to create an incorporated association and make us apply for compensation to this association means that we must wait for a long time again.”

 

According to the article, Samsung does not consider miscarriage and infertility for financial support, while SK Hynix does, but that is misleading.

 

The reason miscarriage and infertility were not part of the criteria for financial aid is because Samsung has already been aiding current employees with such hardships, just as SK Hynix announced.

 

The article tries to link actions of the Korean media with Samsung’s actions or with our advertising spend, but this is completely unfounded. 

 

Samsung has never encouraged any Korean media to report stories attacking Banolim.  Samsung is committed to open and transparent communications with the media and to providing correct and factual information which the media can determine if and how to use in their reports.

 

This article was updated to accurately state the title of the relevant Korean Law:
유해화학물질관리법, TOXIC CHEMICALS CONTROL ACT

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