Financial News

  • 13 March 2014, 20:13

Panasonic Pays China Pollution Wage Premium

The extent of China's pollution crisis has prompted Panasonic to pledge extra wages for its staff there.

The Japanese electronics giant's move - thought to be a world-first for a major international firm - was announced as part of a wider deal with the government, which saw major firms, including Panasonic and Toyota, agree to boost workers' salaries in Japan for the first time in years.

That agreement was made amid concern that a looming rise in sales tax in Japan will further damage consumer spending.

A Panasonic spokesman confirmed the pollution-linked pay premium for its workers in China but declined to give further details or say how many such workers it has in China.

It is understood to employ 70,000 people in the country, although only expatriate staff will benefit from the premium.

So-called hardship pay is not unusual for employees of foreign firms sent to work to China, but Panasonic is believed to be the first to announce a premium to compensate for hazardous air.

A Panasonic document said: "As for the premium for expatriates to compensate for a different living environment, the company will have a special review for those sent to Chinese cities."

It referenced so-called PM 2.5 - small particles which easily penetrate the lungs and have been linked to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths.

Last weekend, a top Chinese environment official said air quality was below national standards in almost all China's major cities last year.

Chinese cities are regularly cloaked in a smoggy haze, with many residents donning masks to avoid taking in the toxic air.

The authorities have repeatedly pledged action, announcing plans to shut down 50,000 small coal-fired furnaces this year, clean up major coal-burning power plants and remove six million high-emission vehicles from the roads.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.