Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kanser dan Industri Elektronik - Maklumat Tambahana dan Bahan Rujukan (kes Samsung)

1. A court in Korea ruled in favor of 2 of the Samsung victims, deciding that their exposures to toxic chemcials played a role in their devloping their leukemia and was therefore compensable (see attached translation of the summary of the court decision) - see also the attached overview of the Samsung worker health issues - See Attachment 1 and 2 below

2.  A recent paper by experts in Korea which analyzes the main epidemiological studies done so far on electronics workers --

3.  The studies done by Dr. Richard Clapp and NIOSH - this is the key study of IBM workers that links their diseases to exposure to toxic chemicals on the job

4.  A link to several presentations by health experts at the American Public Health Association meeting on semiconductor worker health -

5. A resolution passed by the American Public Health Association:

6. An article about the "apology" of a top Samsung official over the deaths of young workers
***** Attachment 1
First approval of Samsung Semiconductor Leukemia death as occupational disease
Seoul Administrative Court First decision: the statement and commentary

On June 23, the Seoul Administrative Court Department 14 (Judge Jin Chang Su) approved the late Samsung Electronics factory workers Hwang Yumi, and Lee Suk Young's deaths by leukemia as occupational disease. (23/06/2011 Seoul Administrative Court 2010 1149 decision).
The court announced in the decree that "Despite the fact that the case of deceased Hwang Yumi and Lee Suk Young didn't reveal a clear medical etiology on the onset of leukemia, the continual exposure to the chemical hazard is assumed to have brought the onset of the disease, or at least, promoted it, hence with significant cause and effect relation, which arranges the defendant (Korea Workers' Compensation & Welfare Service, Kcomwel) with illegitimate disposition of refusal to pay the survivor benefits".
Meanwhile, citing the insistence of Samsung that there is not enough evidence of continuous exposure of hazardous chemicals, the court dismissed the remaining three (the late Hwang Min Wung of Giheung plant, the late Kim Ok Yi and Song Chang Ho of Onyang plant). This is a pitiful statement, for it doesn't rely on facts. The late Hwang Min Wung who was diagnosed of leukemia while working as an maintenance engineer for 7 years from 1997 to October of 2004, in the 1, 5th CMP line and Backlap line of Samsung Semiconductor Giheung plant. However, the court insists with the back up of Samsung's statement, "The cleaning of facility and the set-up operation has been conducted from the year 1995 by another contract company", and concludes that the exposure to the hazardous chemicals cannot be surmised as continuous, leaving insufficient evidence work related leukemia. But Jung Ae Jung, wife of Hwang who worked along with him, said that he was in charge of both the maintenance and set-up operation. The same was applied to Kim EunKyung(prior Kim Ok Yi) and Song Chang Ho. They concluded that while their use of toxic materials can be approved, there still is little evidence of continuous exposure. Although it is pitiful that all 5 workers were not approved as occupational disease, it is still a meaningful thing to have 2 of them recognized after the battle of the past four years. To look closely into details of the judgement basis of the decree of late Hwang Yumi and Lee Suk Young is as follow:
Because benzene, 1,3-butadiene, ethylene oxide, and other chemicals, along with ionizing radiation is a known cause of leukemia, and TCE, formaldehyde etc. are also suspected as a factor of leukemia, and also when a human body is exposed to a toxic chemical not yet medically proved to cause leukemia, considering that it could be due to the fact that etiology has not been identified correctly, leads to the conclusion that the possibility of leukemia incidence cannot be ruled out because insufficient scientific evidence.
When the participant (Samsung Electronics), handed out the "Environmental Handbook" to the engineers from 1996, the third line of Giheung plant was using dozens of chemicals, HCL, POCL3 in the diffusion line, acetone, IPA, ACT-CMI (dimethylacetamide, 2-methyl-ethanolamine mixture), methyl chloride, TCE, various thinners, hydrogen peroxide, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, acetic aicd in the wet-cleaning process of etching line, and all these chemicals are irritants of eye, skin, and respiratory tract. Out of all the chemicals mentioned above, the ACT-CMI, TCE, and sulfuric acid has been designated as carcinogens, with TCE as suspicious etiologic fatcor of hematolymphoid malignancies.
(With the results of investigation of Seoul National University Industry-Academic Cooperation) the fifth line which has a very similar work environment of the third line of Giheung, used 99 kinds of chemicals, with 13 in the diffusion line, 10 in the cleaining line, and they were all identified in the measurment despite the small amount. All of these are irritants of eye, skin and respiratory tract, with arsine and sulfuric acid as specified carcinogens by IARC, and phosphine specified as a cause of anemia and leukopenial. Even more the pre stage process of diffusion and wet etch line, the photolithography line revealed benzene in the photo resistant agent, a well known risk factor of leukemia, and 2-methoxyethanol, a bonemarrow disturbing material
Even with the local ventilation system installed in the facility, there were trace of chemicals as mentioned above which could be inferred to have discharged the toxic chemicals not to a complete degree. And the late Hwang Yumi and Lee Suk Young has been exposed to a greater degree while cleaning in the manual wet etch line, and considering the air circulation system within the line, certain gas leak is apt to spread to other bays, which adds more exposure of gas emitted from other lines.
The hazardous chemical above are harmful to human body, so despite the fact that they were measured to be well beneath the exposure level, the workers are liable to continuous exposure with long working time in the same working environment, and the past working conditions of the late Hwang Yumi and Lee Suk Young is presumed to have greater amount of exposure of the toxic chemicals. The results of Samsung Electronics work environment measurement and the report on the epidemiology research of Korean Occupational Safety and Health Research based on that, reflects only the measurement results statically analyzed at a particular point of time.
Since the exposure of ionizing radiation with other various toxic chemicals can cause interactive response, the late Hwang Yumi with short working period (1year and 8 months), even with low level of exposure under acceptable standards, can result in the development of leukemia according to the individual difference of immunity.
Although the standardized mortality rate or the rate of cancer register of the semiconductor female workers have wide confidence interval giving less statistical significance, they still show a higher level than the general public, so we could estimate that the late Hwang Yumi, Lee Suk Young's work environment had certain impact in the pathogenesis of leukemia
Although we have not won a full victory, the partial winning with the above mentioned basis has two important implications.
One is that, with the issue of the hazardous chemicals of the semiconductor industry and its aftermath of disease being a hot potato these days globally, Korea has stepped first in approving leukemia(hemo-lymphoid malignancy) of the semicondoctor worker as an occupational disease.
The second importance is that, this was a result of the tenacious fight between the Goliath Samsung and the Korean government skewed to Samsung, and the workers and their family survivors. It was a victory of the struggle of the victims, conscientious specialists, and many other supporters who fought for the approval.
Samsung Electronics tried aggressively to prove that this was not an occupational disease, and submitted massive amount of information and letters of approval in the current lawsuit, but still couldn't hide the truth. 
Attachment 2

Text Box:  

Are Toxic Chemicals the Cause of Cancer Cluster Among Samsung Semiconductor Workers in Korea?

Over 145 people at Samsung plants have become seriously ill, and 56 have died.

Cancer cluster
Workers at Samsung’s Korean semiconductor factories, as well as their LCD and cell phone plants, are suffering and dying from blood and brain cancers (such as leukemia and lymphoma) at an alarming rate.  Three workers in one unit developed Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare blood disorder. These are mostly very young women, many of whom begin work while still in high school.  Over 145 people at Samsung’s plants have become seriously ill, and at least 56 of them have died.

Type of Plant
Victims of occupational diseases
Of those victims, number of deaths
Samsung Semiconductor
Samsung LCD:
Samsung mobile phone and other electronics
Samsung Electromechatronics
Samsung SDI
Samsung Techwin
                Occupational Diseases and Deaths of Samsung Semiconductor and Electronics workers in South Korea
                (June 30, 2012)[1]

Same Pattern As With IBM in Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the U.S.
These illnesses and deaths reflect similar patterns experienced at IBM in Silicon Valley and throughout the United States, during the heyday of electronics manufacturing there in the 1980s and 1990s.
““The cases at Samsung fit a pattern of what we saw in the IBM study,” said Richard Clapp, Boston University professor emeritus of environmental health and epidemiologist who conducted an epidemiological study of cancer and death rates among IBM workers between 1969 and 2001 that found elevated rates of blood, brain, lymphatic, and other cancers among workers likely exposed to manufacturing chemicals.” [2]
Compensation Denied to Workers
Once they have been diagnosed and unable to work, these workers (or their families) have filed claims with the Korean Workers Compensation and Welfare (KCOMWEL) for compensation and, in some cases, funeral expenses. KCOMWEL is a state run workers compensation program. Samsung’s worker comp premium rates are linked to their number and severity of successful claims and KCOMWEL has been denying these claims, saying there was no proof that they are related to work.  A Korean NGO coalition called SHARPS: Supporters for the Health And Rights of People in the Semiconductor industry has helped the workers file these claims, and has tried to get Samsung to acknowledge and eliminate the problems, and to compensate the sick workers and their families. SHARPS has helped two groups of workers to file lawsuits challenging KCOMWEL’s denial of their worker comp claims.

Court Ruling Says Deaths Connected to Chemicals; Study Finds Carcinogens in Workplace
In response to the efforts by SHARPS, there have been three important developments:
1) For the first time, a court ruled in favor of 2 Samsung workers who died from leukemia[3][4];
2) Since that court decision, the government ministry overseeing the worker comp agency (KCOMWEL) has ruled in favor of a worker for the first time, and recognized that the aplastic anemia suffered by a worker as an occupational disease resulting from her work at Samsung Semiconductor’s Onyang factory;
3) An independent government study found monitored carcinogens (including benzene and formaldehyde) as well as radiation in the workplace at Samsung and other semiconductor plants in Korea

Samsung Stonewalling
Samsung refuses to admit any connection between the workplace processing and worker cancers. Samsung, which has very strong ties to the federal government (many people in Korea refer to it as “the Republic of Samsung”), has a militant anti-union policy. Workers say the workplace is run in a very strict, almost military-like fashion, where workers are forced to work overtime. Last year two workers, young men in their 20s, leapt to their deaths, similar to what’s been much more widely reported at the Foxconn facility in China. 
Instead, Samsung commissioned a study by a consulting firm which supported Samsung’s position that there is no connection between the worker illnesses and workplace conditions. Meanwhile, Samsung shipped more smartphones than any other vendor during 2012's first quarter with 42.2 million units.[5]

English Speaking Press Not Covering This Issue
There has been little coverage of this issue by the English speaking press. Also, many of the relevant reports are not yet translated into English. There is a very active coalition of NGOs, called SHARPS - Supporters of Health and Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry – which has an English website chronicling these events and issued:
Last updated: August 16, 2012

[2] Elizabeth Grossman, Toxics in the ‘Clean Rooms’: Are Samsung Workers at Risk? Environment 360,  June 9, 2001,

[3] 23/06/2011 Seoul Administrative Court 2010, 1149 decision. Summary of the ruling:
[4] 23/06/2011 Seoul Administrative Court 2010, 1149 decision , text of the ruling (English translation):

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ong Tee Keat anti-Union? Blame the UNION or should we not blame the Chairman and Board or Directors, and the majority shareholder - our Malaysian government?

A second politician to blame workers and Unions for the MAS's failings. [See earlier post:- Anti-Union sentiments expressed by Tan Seng Giaw an indication that PR may also pro-employer? ]

In fact, the Union is making a good suggestion - get rid of the top management, the people that caused this 'mess' in the first place. In fact, I would say that we should get rid of the Chairman of the Board and Directors and the Directors of MAS - WHY? Well, they are responsible for MAS - and in this case, the BN government is also to be blamed.

Malaysia has been pumping in money to 'bail out' MAS - normally, when this is done, the amount of money put in is translated in shares ....i.e. the number of government shares increase. But, is this what was happening in the case of MAS - or is the amount used to 'bail-out' - really just a loan (with interest)...or just a no-strings attach 'donation'? 

Now, MAS is also owed by private persons and entities - and I wonder why we, Malaysians, are using our monies to help these private persons/entities...

What is the way forward for MAS? - 1) Maybe the government should completely take over the ownership of MAS, 2) Immediately set up a credible team to 'clean-up' things in MAS - maybe overseen by a Parliamentary Select Committee, and maybe also with members of the 2 Unions in MAS involved...Maybe, Air Asia's Tony Fernandez should be invited in to lead considering that Air Asia is doing well... 

It is said that MAS employees are paid lower wages and allowances than Air Asia and other airlines - and this has resulted many employees of MAS being 'stolen away' by other airlines... 

Lot of issues....


Warning to MAS union over standoff

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Transport Minister Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat (pix) has warned that a standoff between the ailing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and its employees' unions will only hasten the airline's downfall. 

Ong said MAS already has enough problems on its plate and any action such as a strike by the unions if their demands were not met would only worsen the unprecedented critical times the airline was going through. 

"But certainly, as a mature labour union, we are hopeful that the unionists should have the larger picture in mind. They should realise that we have indeed come to a crucial moment. "Mere grouses of the unions should be addressed separately and we need to draw a line very clearly here," Ong said in an interview. 

The MAS Employees Union (MASEU), the largest of the national carrier's unions, picketed on Thursday at MAS administration office in Subang near here, a day after the company's annual general meeting (AGM) and demanded the resignation of the airline's top three management, blaming them for losses of RM4 million daily. 

Based on figures made available at the AGM, analysts have raised concern if MAS' balance sheet can endure another year of heavy losses. 

On calls by MASEU for a change in the top management, Ong said: "It all depends on whether or not your business model works and not so much on your credentials or paper qualifications." 

On the options being considered by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, the majority shareholder of MAS, in the impending turnaround plan to save the airline, he said whatever the plan, another bail-put should be ruled out. 

"A mere bail-put without any comprehensive, resolute and prudent measures will ultimately be futile and this reminds me of past experience with bail-outs. 

"Given the fact that Khazanah has been aiding MAS with huge sums such as RM5 billion and the airline is still going down, it is time to take stock of the cost effectiveness and the real problems at hand, such as its high operational costs compared with other airlines' and whether MAS has priced itself out of the market," he added. 

MAS is expected to present its restructuring plan to the government in the next few weeks with chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya advocating sweeping changes involving a total review of the fleet, network, costs, employees and work processes. 

Analysts have called for long-term measures such as cost-cutting exercises and for MAS to be privatised with downsizing the 20,000-workforce as one of the key options as the way forward. 

RHB Research noted that while MAS' unit costs (measured by tonnage mile) have improved, it still has a long way to go compared with other full-service carriers, adding that "MAS' low-hanging fruit for cost cutting is staff reduction". 

It said MAS, with a workforce of 19,577 that cost RM2.4 billion for the 2013 financial year, is relatively sizeable compared to other carriers like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airlines. 

The government's total exposure to MAS amounts to RM9.6 billion. The Ministry of Finance owns a majority stake in MAS through various entities as a equity shareholder as well as creditors. In turn, several government entities own the airline with Khazanah directly having a 69.4 per cent stake. – Bernama - The Sun Daily, 29/6/2014, Warning to MAS union over standoff