China’s Pollution Causes Panasonic to Offer Employees Compensation

13 Mar

Panasonic, a leading Japanese electronics firm, has announced it will compensate employees with a wage premium upon being sent to China. This is due to the country’s precarious level of air pollution in which Panasonic described as a “differing living environment”. A Chinese environmental official stated that air quality was below national standards in nearly all of the country’s major cities last year. Panasonic’s announcement of premiums to its employees comes amidst China’s Premier’s (Li Keqiang), declaration of “war” on pollution.

Health concerns have continuously been raised over China’s hazardous air pollution levels, however, still only three out of 74 cities satisfy the new air quality standard set by the government. The Panasonic document references PM 2.5, a substance which easily penetrates the lungs and has been linked to substantial premature deaths in the country. In fact, according to the US Embassy in Beijing, levels of PM 2.5 have reached over 400mgs per cubic meter on repeated occasions – over 16 times the World Health Organisation’s safety standard of 25mgs.

Owing to China’s rapid industrialisation, populated ‘mega-cities’ and its vast manufacturing sector, its cities are commonly cloaked in a haze which has lead to numerous residents wearing safety masks to avoid inhaling the toxic air. Despite Chinese authorities repeatedly pledging action in recent months, experts warn implementation is the key to combat China’s air pollution problem once and for all.

The Premier, Li, added the government has its plans cut out this year. 50,000 small coal-fired furnaces are scheduled to close, along with the removal of six million high-emission vehicles from the roads, and the crackdown of major coal-burning power plants.

References:

France-Presse, A. (2014) “Panasonic to pay workers in China pollution compensation”. The Guardian. 13 March 2014 [Online]. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/mar/13/panasonic-pay-pollution-expatriate-workers-china [Accessed 13 March 2014]

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