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Beijing roots for shorter work hours

In a last-ditch bid to address Beijing’s smog, the firms of Beijing have been ordered to stagger or shorten working hours from next week to cut pollution and traffic gridlock as the Olympics hits top gear.

world Updated: Jul 15, 2008 00:28 IST

Beijing companies have been ordered to stagger or shorten working hours from next week as the drive to cut pollution and traffic gridlock for the Olympics hits top gear, the government said.

The measures are part of a last-ditch bid to address Beijing’s environmental woes that takes effect from July 20 and includes the launch of new metro lines as well as a ban on more than one million cars from the city’s streets.

More than three million cars regularly snarl up the streets of Beijing, a city of 17 million, and the traffic is one of the chief reasons for its often heavy pollution.

State-owned firms must reduce working their working day, starting an hour later and finishing an hour earlier than normal, the notice on the Beijing government website said.

When suitable, all firms should allow staff to work from home and introduce flexible working hours to stagger arrival and departure times, said the notice, which was posted over the weekend and carried in the Chinese press on Monday.

Employers are also encouraged to allow staff to take annual leave during the Games.

The notice said that the measures were intended to ease traffic congestion and help curb Beijing’s notorious air pollution.

Poor air quality remains a major threat to the August 8-24 Olympics despite the host city spending an estimated 20 billion dollars over the past decade on a massive environmental cleanup.

This has included raising vehicle emission standards, shutting down coal-fired boilers in the city and moving polluting factories out of town or shutting them down.