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Chongqing Eyes Work Cuts on Hot Days
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Some residents of Chongqing, one of the hottest cities in China, say workers should be given reduced duty when temperatures exceed 35 degrees Celsius.

The city has promised to enact a regulation that allows people to stop working when it gets too hot outside. Municipal officials held a three-hour hearing last week seeking suggestions.

The hearing, which was attended by 60 people, was also broadcast online. Most of the participants endorsed the idea of allowing workers to have shorter work days in hot weather and be provided with cold drinks.

Liu Jiefeng, one of the meeting participants, said the law should kick in at 35 degrees - not 40 degrees as suggested in the current draft rule.

"When the weather forecast says it will be 35 degrees Celsius, the temperature of the actual working environment is usually much higher than that," Liu said.

Liu's view was opposed by Pi Li, who represents the Chongqing City Federation of Trade Unions. Pi said there are too many days between May and October when the temperature in Chongqing reaches 35, and not enough work would get done if that figure was accepted as the cutoff point.

Luo Quanshui, who works for the Chongqing Public Transport Group, also said a forecast temperature doesn't represent true conditions on the job. "When it is 38 degrees Celsius outside, the temperature inside a bus without air conditioning can reach 50 degrees Celsius."

More than 3,000 non-air-conditioned buses ply the streets of Chongqing.

"Last year, some bus companies placed blocks of ice in buses to bring down the temperature," Luo said.

No matter where the benchmark is set, it will be business as usual for workers in air-conditioned environments, however.

The draft regulation, which is expected to take effect in June, also includes a hot weather allowance that will be paid to outside workers between July and September.

The city experienced a nightmarish summer last year with a prolonged heat wave and drought. In some parts of the city, there were 25 successive days when the temperature climbed above 40 degrees.

On August 15 the mercury reached 44.5 degrees in Qijiang County, the highest temperature since records began to be kept 53 years

(Shanghai Daily April 16, 2007)

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