2 words keep sick Samsung workers from data: trade secrets

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — As an excessive school senior, Hwang Yu-mi went to paintings bathing silicon wafers in chemicals at a Samsung manufacturing unit that makes pc chips for laptops and other devices. 4 years later, she died of leukemia. She became 22.

After Yu-mi’s demise in 2007, her father, Hwang Sang-gi, found out a 30-year-old employee on the same semiconductor line also had died of leukemia. Satisfied they died because of their paintings, the taxi motive force released a motion traumatic the government checks out health risks at Samsung Electronics Co. factories.

While Hwang sued after his first claim for government compensation was denied, he struggled to get information about the manufacturing unit environment. A government report he acquired approximately his daughter’s workplace had a segment for list the chemicals used there. Still, that space becomes left blank due to the fact Samsung did now not release that fact to employee-protection officials.

A Related Press investigation has discovered South Korean government have, at Samsung’s request, again and again, withheld from people and their bereaved families crucial statistics about chemical compounds they had been uncovered at its pc chip and liquid crystal show factories. Sick employees are purported to have to get admission to such information through the government or the courts to practice for employees’ compensation from the state. Without it, government officials usually reject their cases.

The justification for withholding the records? In a minimum of six cases involving 10 people, it turned into an exchange of secrets and techniques. Court docket documents and interviews with authorities officers, workers’ legal professionals, and their families show Samsung frequently cites the want to protect exchange secrets. While it asks authorities officers no longer to launch such facts.

“Our combat is regularly against alternate secrets. Any contents that might not paintings in Samsung’s prefer have been deleted as trade secrets,” said Lim Ja-woon, an attorney who has represented 15 Sick Samsung people.

Lim’s customers had been unable to get right of entry to the complete reports on facility inspections, which can be produced via 1/3 parties to comply with South Korean law. However, they continue to be the assets of Samsung. He stated that most effective excerpts of a few impartial inspections may be observed in a few Court rulings.

South Korea law bars governments and public organizations from withholding company records wished “to protect the lives, physical safety, and health” of individuals on trade-secrets grounds. Still, there are not any consequences for violations. Lim stated the law on occupational disorder compensation also obligates Samsung to provide people the information they need to make claims.

Authorities officials overtly say corporate interests take precedence. Evaluating alternate-secrets and techniques claims is difficult. They worry about being sued for sharing statistics towards an organization’s will.

“We must preserve secrets that belong to our clients,” said Yang Won-Baek, the Korea Occupational protection and health Agency, or KOSHA. “It’s about to believe.”

Requested why he used the phrase “customers” to describe agencies his government Agency enables regulate, Yang stated It is possibly due to the fact he treats the one’s companies “as I deal with clients.” He stated the group KOSHA evaluates the Company, and the finance ministry considers those opinions while it sets Agency budgets.

Whilst Requested for remark, Samsung emailed a declaration saying it in no way “intentionally” blocked employees from getting access to records and that it’s far transparent approximately all chemical substances it is required to reveal. It additionally stated there was no case in which statistics disclosure become “illegally prevented.”

But, files from courts and the hard work ministry show that as recently as closing 12 months, Samsung Asked the authorities not to reveal information of chemical exposure ranges and other inspections — even at judges’ request to be used in employees’ repayment proceedings.

In a letter to regulators signed via the agency’s CEO, Samsung said that if manufacturing unit info including “kinds and volumes of substances” had been launched for a people’ reimbursement case, “it’s miles feared that the generation hole with opponents at home and overseas might be reduced, and our organization’s competitiveness would be lowered. For this reason, they’re trade secrets that we deal with strictly as secrets, we request not to disclose.”

Even though the organization now not omits lists of chemical substances as it did in Hwang Yu-mi’s case, it has recently withheld details about exposure tiers and how its chemical substances are managed.

Samsung is South Korea’s biggest agency away, with approximately a hundred,000 people. Its market capitalization is extra than 5 instances more than the No. 2 agency in this USA of 50 million. It employs about forty-five,000 humans in its South Korean semiconductor and Lcd departments, although not all manufacturing facility workers.

The worker safety group Banolim, known as SHARPS in English, has documented more than two hundred cases of serious ailments, which include leukemia, lupus, lymphoma, and more than one sclerosis among former Samsung semiconductor and Liquid crystal display people. Seventy-six have died, a maximum of their 20s and 30s.

Households of the victims, usually running-class youths from the nation-state, often burn up their lifestyles financial savings and sell their houses to pay health facility bills, ending up in sponsored housing. A number of the workers ended up incapacitated and not able to paint.

Left with few options, more than 100 families established a repayment plan Samsung proposed last 12 months, which covered clinical prices and a few earnings for employees with 26 sicknesses. Some families rejected the deal.

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