A member of China’s national advisory body has called for the introduction of subsidies for outdoor labourers working during smoggy conditions, mainland media has reported.

According to Workers’ Daily, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) member Pan Xiaoyan said during the “two meetings” in Beijing on Tuesday that the country needed better labour laws and industry standards to regulate outdoor work in polluted conditions.

File photo: Pixabay.

Workers’ Daily is a newspaper published by the Communist Party-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions.

“Given that the smog problem cannot be comprehensively solved in the short-term, I call on the relevant authorities to give consideration to the harmful effects of smog on the health of labourers,” said Pan, “especially hygiene workers, couriers, road maintenance workers, and traffic police.”

“Regarding protection for labourers, there are clearly not enough measures, and there are blank spaces within the regulations,” Pan – a Xinjiang-based lawyer – added.

Occupational diseases

She said that respiratory problems caused by smog were often not considered occupational diseases, because symptoms may not appear until later in life. It would also be difficult to prove a direct correlation between smog and health issues.

Chairman Xu Niansha of armaments manufacturer Poly Group, also a member of the CPPCC, agreed with the idea to introduce “smog subsidies,” the paper said. He proposed that the subsidies could be jointly funded by companies and the government.

Other CPPCC members suggested that outdoor labour hours could be delayed or modified when an orange-level alert – the second-highest air pollution alert – is in force.

File photo: Wikicommons.

Beijing has recorded low levels of air pollution throughout most of the week’s “two meetings” of the country’s top national legislature and political advisory body. The US Department of State recorded a “good” Air Quality Index level of 42 as of 10am Thursday.

However, air pollution has reached hazardous levels on multiple occasions over the winter.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.