The family members of more than 70 workers at a Samsung factory in South Korea who died are demanding answers and also justice for their deaths. The problem appears to go even further as families say about 200 workers at the factory have developed serious health problems, including leukemia.

Samsung
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Samsung keeping information from workers

Family members claim Samsung is also withholding information about the type of chemicals it uses there—citing “trade secrets” as the reason. The Associated Press conducted an investigation into the factory after hearing of the problems.

The father of a 22-year-old woman who died of leukemia after working at a Samsung facility that manufactures computer chips for various devices tried to get a list of the chemicals she was exposed to after learning that a second worker at the same assembly line also died of leukemia. However, his initial request for compensation from the government was denied, as Samsung allegedly would not give details about the working environment inside the factory where his daughter worked.

South Korea said to side with Samsung

Workers who have become ill are legally supposed to have access to a list of chemicals that they are exposed to so that they can apply for workers’ compensation from the government. However, companies that claim the information is part of its trade secrets do not have to disclose it. Applications for government compensation that lack information about which chemicals are used are typically denied.

Samsung allegedly claims that the chemicals are part of its “trade secrets” and thus hasn’t given a list to officials who oversee worker safety. In fact, the Associated Press has reportedly found that authorities in South Korea are complying with Samsung’s request to withhold information about the chemicals it uses at its chip making and liquid crystal display factories.

Samsung denies the allegations

Samsung issued a statement denying the allegations that it is withholding the information about the chemicals it uses from South Korean officials. The electronics giant also claims that worker safety is its “number one priority.”

According to the company’s statement, under South Korean law, companies are supposed to state whether their products contain toxic substances. Samsung states that the chemicals it receives from its suppliers are certified as not containing any toxic substances. It also states that it tests the materials it receives from suppliers for traces of toxic substances.

This isn’t the first time allegations about worker safety have been raised against a company with manufacturing facilities in Asia. Apple supplier Pegatron also got in trouble years ago, although the iPhone maker claims it has since clamped down on safety at its Chinese supplier.