Samsung Electronics officially apologized to its workers suffering from severe occupational illnesses and adopted a plan to compensate the mediator by setting a final line for a decade-long dispute over its work environment.
The South Korean technology giant on Friday admitted for the first time that it failed to properly address the health risks posed by workers in their semi-conductor and flat panel displays and promised to improve safety.
"Our beloved colleagues and their families have been suffering for a long time, but Samsung Electronics has failed to take care of this earlier," said Kim Kinam, chairman of the semiconductor company.
"Samsung has also failed to fully manage the potential health risks of its chip and liquid crystal production lines," he added. "We offer their sincere excuse."
According to the arbitration proposal signed Friday, Samsung will offer up to Won150m ($ 132,000) to any worker who has contracted cancer or other serious illness while working in his power plants since 1984. The compensation process will begin this year and will continue until 2028.
Samsung also donated Won50bn to the state-run Korean Health and Safety Agency to help improve industrial safety in the country, which has one of the highest industrial deaths in the developed world and a culture to cover industrial accidents and illnesses.
The agreement marks a breakthrough for victims and their families struggling to gain official recognition of the health risks posed by semiconductor and LCD bodies for workers.
Their fight against Samsung began in 2007 when taxi driver Hwang Sang-ki refused to accept an agreement for a 22-year-old daughter who died of leukemia after working in a factory in Samsung for four years.
About 260 Samsung workers have been seriously ill during the past decade because of exposure to toxic chemicals, with less than 30 of them receiving official financial compensation, Sharps said in a South Korean advocacy working group.
"No excuse would be enough for our suffering, but I would consider it a pledge of the company [to prevent any recurrence], Said Mr. Hwang. "Compensation for occupational diseases is important, but what matters is prevention."
Mr. Hwang called on Samsung to offer compensation to affected workers in their subcontractors and overseas factories as well as related companies such as Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Samsung SDI and Samsung SDS.
Samsung has been subjected to fire at the overseas labor offices with UN experts who voiced concern over the treatment of workers in their smartphone plants in Vietnam in March.
The deal comes as Samsung, faced with corruption scandals and allegations of labor sabotage, is struggling to repair its corrupted corporate image at home.
The League's heir, Lee Jay-jun, has been indicted for a bribe conviction for bribery of former President Parker Geun-Hing for Business. He appealed the decision.
In September, South Korean prosecutors accused chairman of the company's board, Lee Sang-hoon, and dozens of other senior executives, for alleged trade-offs of sabotage.