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Heat allowances sought for workers

07-07-2010 11:36 BJT Special Report: China Battles Heat Wave |

BEIJING, July 7 (Xinhaunet) -- As a heat wave bakes most of the country, labor experts are calling for diversified allowances to guarantee outdoor workers' health.

A watermelon vendor bites into one of his fruits to beat the heat at a vegetable market in Bozhou, Anhui province, on Tuesday, when the temperature soared to above 35 C.(Source: China Daily)
A watermelon vendor bites into one of his fruits to beat the heat at a vegetable 
market in Bozhou, Anhui province, on Tuesday, when the temperature soared to above 
35 C.(Source: China Daily)

Heat allowances are not compulsory nationwide and are especially unlikely to be provided for migrant construction workers, Capital University of Economics and Business labor economics department professor Lu Xuejing said.

"The government should issue regulations protecting outdoor workers' health, especially because extreme weather is becoming more common," she said.

Employers could also reschedule shifts for cooler times of day, shorten working hours and provide heatstroke-prevention medications as forms of heat allowances, she added.

Her call for a relevant law to be passed as soon as possible was echoed on Tuesday by Wang Yazhi, director of the labor protection department of the Hebei Provincial Federation of Trade Unions.

The only regulation protecting workers laboring in extreme heat was passed in 1960. In 2007, four ministries issued a notice saying employers should pay allowances to those whose work environment exceeds 35 C.

However, few places have adopted these guidelines as regulations.

The Beijing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau has raised the city's monthly heat allowance from 60 yuan ($8.8) to 120 yuan starting in July.

The policy covers construction workers, drivers of buses without air conditioning and cleaners, but many outdoor workers said they have not heard of the allowance.

Employers must pay medical bills for outdoor workers who suffer heat strokes on the job, according to the List of Occupational Diseases released by the Ministry of Health in 2002.

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