Chal­lenges for those toil­ing out­side

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

In swel­ter­ing heat on Wed­nes­day, Chen Cheng, a main­te­nance em­ployee with China’s bike-shar­ing op­er­a­tor Mo­bike, had lifted more than 50 bikes onto a van by noon, the sweat stains ob­vi­ous on his black uni­form.

His job in the south­ern city of Guangzhou, Guang­dong prov­ince, was to help trans­fer hap­haz­ardly placed bikes from out­side a lux­ury shop­ping mall to some­where more prac­ti­cal. He did not stop work­ing de­spite a heat wave warn­ing is­sued by the lo­cal ob­ser­va­tory.

The Na­tional Me te o r o l o g i c a l Cen­ter fore­cast on Thurs­day that heat would con­tinue to grip parts of north­ern, eastern and south­ern China in the fol­low­ing 10 days.

Chen has had to take dry clothes and a towel to work. How­ever, he did not see sweat­ing un­der the scorch­ing sun as hard la­bor.

“Many young peo­ple love ex­er­cise. Well, my job saves me money for that,” Chen joked.

A few peo­ple even mis­took him for a bike thief.

“They shouted at me or took pic­tures when I car­ried the bikes. Still, it is good to know that peo­ple care about the bikes,” he said.

Like Chen, more than 1,000 main­te­nance em­ploy­ees are work­ing to en­sure the ef­fi­cient use and or­derly park­ing of shared bikes in Guangzhou, which has more than 700,000 such bikes.

While the swel­ter­ing weather has in­tim­i­dated shared bike users, it has spurred on­line cater­ing busi­nesses and placed a heavy bur­den on de­liv­ery work­ers.

Li Li, a de­liv­ery worker in Fuzhou, Fu­jian prov­ince, said his 40-strong team has han­dled nearly 1,000 or­ders a day re­cently, com­pared with 600 to 700 or­ders on or­di­nary days.

“I drank at least four bot­tles of wa­ter from 10 am to 2 pm, the peak pe­riod of de­liv­ery,” Li said. “The hard­est time is wait­ing for clients un­der the sun, or climb­ing stairs.”

“The hottest days are our busiest days,” said Wang Bail­ing, a de­liv­ery worker in Kaifeng, He­nan prov­ince, who de­liv­ered more than 20 or­ders from morn­ing to noon on Tues­day.

Wear­ing a T-shirt, a sun­proof coat and a hel­met, Wang’s clothes were wet all day long, but he was re­quired to dress neatly.

“It is re­ally hot and we are busy ... I ex­pect more un­der­stand­ing from clients if we can’t make it on time,” he said.

While Wang and Li can en­joy a breath of air while zoom­ing along streets on their mo­tor­bikes, san­i­ta­tion worker Luo Xin’ai has her own way of get­ting re­lief from the op­pres­sive heat.

Dur­ing her work, Luo puts three bot­tles of frozen wa­ter, wrapped in tow­els , be­tween her clothes and skin.

“The ice cools down my body. Af­ter it melts, I drink the wa­ter,” she said. “I do the job be­cause I don’t want to be idle. I won’t be slug­gish no mat­ter how hot the weather is.”

De­spite the heat, con­struc­tion worker Ran Zhongku in Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince, has to wear gloves when touch­ing steel bars.

“They are still very hot,” said the 45-year-old man.

The tem­per­a­ture at the un­fin­ished tun­nel, which Ran is work­ing on, ex­ceeded 40 C on Thurs­day noon, since steel bars ab­sorb and give off heat.

Shaanxi has seen record­break­ing tem­per­a­tures in the past days and the ex­treme heat will per­sist in the fol­low­ing days, ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal ob­ser­va­tory.

How­ever, in or­der to meet the dead­line in Novem­ber, con­struc­tion of the tun­nel can­not halt, ac­cord­ing to a project man­ager. He said work­ers had ac­cess to drugs that pre­vent and treat sun­stroke, and they are al­lowed to rest when they feel un­com­fort­able.

The cen­tral gov­ern­ment en­sures the rights of work­ers in the heat. The All-China Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions has is­sued a di­rec­tive prompt­ing em­ploy­ers to re­duce work time and work­load dur­ing times of high tem­per­a­tures.

Many young peo­ple love ex­er­cise. Well, my job saves me money for that.”

Chen Cheng,

main­te­nance em­ployee with bike-shar­ing com­pany Mo­bike

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