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DL, SPC chiefs apologize for worker deaths under poor labor conditions

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SPC Group Chairman Hur Young-in, left, and DL Group Chairman Lee Hae-wook, right, take an oath during the Environment and Labor Committee's hearing on industrial accidents at the National Assembly in Seoul, Friday. Yonhap

Chairmen vow safety measures amid absence of ruling party lawmakers
By Park Jae-hyuk

The chairmen of DL and SPC groups vowed, Friday, to enhance safety measures to prevent fatal industrial accidents, apologizing for a series of worker deaths involving their companies.

They were summoned to the National Assembly Environment and Labor Committee's hearing on industrial accidents, as they had refused to attend the annual parliamentary audit in October, citing overseas travel commitments. At that time, the two groups respectively sent DL E&C CEO Ma Chang-min and Shany CEO Lee Kang-seop to the audit session.

The ruling People Power Party's lawmakers boycotted the latest hearing in protest against the opposition party's refusal to their proposal of holding closed-door meetings with the chairmen at their offices.

Seats for ruling People Power Party's lawmakers are empty during the Environment and Labor Committee's hearing on industrial accidents at the National Assembly in Seoul, Friday. Yonhap

During the hearing, DL Group Chairman Lee Hae-wook told lawmakers that the company plans to hike its budget for safety measures by 25 percent next year, following a 29 percent increase this year. He also denied allegations that his company has recklessly rushed constructions.

Since the implementation of the Serious Accidents Punishment Act in January last year, seven fatal industrial accidents occurred at construction sites under the supervision of DL E&C, killing eight workers, who were hired by the builder's subcontractors. The law states that a company's CEO can be sent to jail if a serious worksite accident occurs when the company has not taken sufficient safety precautions.

After lawmakers asked Lee to attend the hearing, DL Group apologized last week to the bereaved families of the deceased workers and announced various follow-up measures.

"In collaboration with employees and subcontractors, we will make efforts to become a company running the safest worksites in Korea" Lee said.

SPC Group Chairman Hur Young-in said that the company is considering automation of dangerous processes and the introduction of robots to its factories.

After a worker in her 20s died in October last year from an accident at the group's bakery factory in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Hur held a press conference to make an apology and to announce a 100 billion won ($77 million) investment over the next three years in safety management. In August, he also apologized for another fatal accident at the company's bakery factory in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.

Lawmakers urged SPC to reform its double shift system, which places workers under exhausting conditions.

"All our employees bitterly regret the accidents," Hur said.

Minister of Employment and Labor Lee Jung-sik also attended the hearing to promise stricter supervision of worksites, where fatal industrial accidents have frequently occurred.

Park Jae-hyuk


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