Hankook Tire workers have been exposed to chemical substances that threaten their life and health. Therefore, the workplace they are working was suggested to be designated as a special disaster zone.
The Korea Democratic Party and the Hankook Tire Industrial Accident Council held a press conference recently to urge special disaster area designation and investigation into the state of affairs in connection with the death of Hankook Tire workers.
“The number of workers who died working at a Hankook Tire factory was 168 workers in just 20 years. Hankook Tire factories should be designated as special disaster zones by hazardous chemicals,” said the members of the press conference.
According to Kim Jong-hoon, a member of the Democratic Party, the number of disease-infected and onlookers among the 4,000 workers in Hankook Tire increased sharply from 776 in 2011 to 2,611 in 2017.
“The increase in number of disease-infected workers is a major problem that exceeds the sudden death of a group of Hankook Tire workers between 2007 and 2008. This can lead to a dire situation,” said the Industrial Accident Council.
On July 26th, a worker on the facility maintenance team who was working at the Geumsan plant of Hankook Tire was found dead. This worker was reported to have been classified as an occupational observer in the 2007 health examination.
The association claimed that the chemicals in the HV250, which are essential for the production of tires and contain class 1 carcinogen such as benzene, toluene, and xylene, caused the disease.
“Even though it was the company of Lee Myung-bak’s son-in-law, the conservative regime did not work out the problem for ten years. It is too late, but the Labor Ministry and the National Assembly should step in and solve the problem,” said the council.
They asked the overseas organizations to reconsider the environmental epidemiology survey and demanded that the Environmental Labor Relations Commission of the National Assembly conduct a state investigation.
Furthermore, they urged hospitals to investigate patients who were ill, including workers and ex-workers, and establish emergency clinics for treatment and management.
Hankook Tire’s occupational disease problems began to attract attention when 15 workers died between the years 2006 to 2007. But 10 years later, the number of workers getting sick is increasing, so controversy is expected.
Meanwhile, the Workplace Accident Council also complained against the government. Although the government and the ruling party promised to resolve the situation before the presidential election, they are still taking no action.
“We had hope when the regime of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye, which blocked the truth of the death of Hankook Tire workers, came to an end with the candlelight revolution. With Moon Jae-in being elected as the 19th president, we hope that he fulfills his promises of punishing those responsible, revising the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act, and giving out comprehensive compensation to those affected,” said the Council.