Since 2007, more than 70 Samsung factory workers have died due to work-related diseases and hundreds have fallen ill, according to SHARPS, an occupational health advocacy group in South Korea.
Courts in Korea have sided with one victim, ruling her leukemia was caused by dangerous chemicals she was exposed to at work. Seven years after her death, Samsung finally issued an apology to workers in 2014.
In July 2015, Samsung finally agreed to pay victims $85.8 million in compensation—in line with the recommendations of a mediation committee set up to negotiate between workers and the company. However, so far, Samsung has ignored the core recommendation of this committee: to fund an independent non-profit foundation that will determine how to fairly distribute compensation to workers for their diseases and how to develop an effective strategy for assessing and incorporating safer chemicals into production, in order to prevent future diseases.
Without a plan to monitor and remove hazardous chemicals from Samsung factories, young workers continue to risk their lives every day, just by doing their jobs. Victims have engaged in a sit-in in front of Samsung headquarters in order to get the electronics giant to protect workers from toxins and work with the Mediation Committee. Adding to the urgency, recent investigations of Samsung factories worldwide by International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) have also found widespread abusive labor conditions.