Samsung’s repair staff release wages in wake of suicide

The lLate Samsung employee Choi Jong-beom and his daughter

The late Samsung employee Choi Jong-beom and his daughter

A group of Samsung electronics repair subcontractors have released their wages to refute the tech giant’s claim that the recent death of a service center worker in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, had nothing to do with economic hardship.

The average earnings of 24 subcontract workers at the Samsung Service Center in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, was 1.34 million won ($1,264) last month, according a document that the progressive Korean daily Hankyoreh published Tuesday.

The document said a Samsung Service Center employee with 11 years of experience received just 1.05 million won before tax, whereas a deputy manager with 21 years under his belt earned a pretax wage of 1.29 million won and 1.03 million won after tax.

Industry sources say Samsung Service Centers pay contract repair workers three to four times less than regular staff.

“My husband received a paycheck of 1 million won last month,” one netizen said, adding that her husband also works for a Samsung Service Center as a contract repair worker. “He was at a loss for words and very sorry (about his low wage) as he knows how difficult it is to survive with such a little amount of money.”

Samsung, however, denied such a big income gap between regular and outsourced workers.

The company also claimed that Choi Jong-beom, a Samsung Service Center contract worker who committed suicide Oct. 30 after complaining of financial difficulties, was paid more than 5 million won ($4,700) a month on average for the past three months.

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The Kakao talk message left by Samsung repair worker Choi Jong-beom before taking his own life Oct. 30 said, “It’s been so hard for me to work as a Samsung Service Center employee. I’ve been starving to death and it’s been tough to watch everyone struggle so hard.” He added, “I can’t do what (1970s labor activist) Chun Tae-il did. But I’ve made my decision and I hope it can be of use.”

In a KaKao talk message that he left before taking his own life, he said “It’s been so hard for me to work as a Samsung Service Center employee. I’ve been starving to death and it’s been tough to watch everyone struggle so hard.”

He added, “I can’t do what (1970s labor rights activist) Chun Tae-il did. But I’ve made my decision and I hope it can be of use.”