Challenges for those toiling outside
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.”
maintenance employee with bike-sharing company Mobike