The mercury column at record levels is changing habits and the organization of activities in the workplace, from factories to construction sites, up to public offices. An emergency, daughter of climate change, which we will have to deal with from now on because extreme events are no longer an exception. And measures are devised to avoid blocking the activity: night shifts for those who redo the asphalt, longer breaks on the assembly lines, sunscreen for airport workers and a halt to activities in the fields
Agriculture: the activity stops at 35 degrees, also perceived
In the fields the most difficult situations, especially in the South. So much so that in Puglia and Calabria the ban on working has been triggered. Sicily, on the other hand, said no, despite the fact that the unions have also asked other regions of the South to intervene to force the suspension of activity during the hottest hours, when the column exceeds 35 degrees. And as a shock absorber there is layoffs, the one that triggers when the mercury column reaches 35 degrees. Use that is foreseen, by the hour, for agriculture, without being counted in the maximum limit. A measure that helps the company and the worker when activities are stopped due to excessive heat. There are Regions where the measure is already being applied, such as Calabra and Puglia: with a formal provision they have banned working during the hottest hours. Sicily, on the other hand, avoided adopting the detention. Which is stressing the world of agriculture and those who work in greenhouses, where the temperature reaches 50 degrees. An unlivable situation, denounce the representatives of Sicilian agricultural workers.
The industry: long breaks and free water against the heat
The heat emergency changes the organization of work in the factory. Examples of chords abound. Like the agreement reached in two Marelli plants, one in Sulmona, in Abruzzo, where they make suspensions, and the other in Venaria Reale, in the Turin area, where they build exhaust systems for cars. In both cases, an extra break. In Melano, near Fabriano, where the hobs for the kitchens are manufactured in the Whirlpool factory, an anti-Covid measure has been dusted off due to the heat: an additional 7-minute break above 31 degrees. Additional 10-minute paid breaks in the Cassina Whirlpool facility. Faiveley Transport of Piossasco, in the province of Turin, where components for railway convoys are made, has been granted a doubling of the physiological break. Cold water dispensers and distributors of supplements and mineral salts were then installed in the wards. A few days ago Stellantis had sent the Panda employees home to the Pomigliano d'Arco plant, where the distribution of water and supplements continues, as well as continuous ventilation.
Construction: night shifts so as not to block construction sites
We work at night from Lazio to Puglia. To avoid blocking construction sites, especially large ones involving the road network, companies try the route of night work. A way to avoid the risk of workers suffering problems in the 40 degree sun. It is one of the ways not to block the construction sector, the one most under pressure in these weeks of skyrocketing temperatures. The small construction sites, the private ones, can be stopped, resorting to layoffs when the perceived 35 degrees are exceeded. The road works, on the eve of the August exodus, must go ahead to avoid traffic jams and accidents. Hence the idea of working after sunset, or of bringing forward the start of the shift before dawn, as happens in Puglia, especially for companies that deal with asphalt. Practice also adopted in Rome, where some companies have changed shifts: from 5 to 14 or from 6 to 12. Even the works of the Municipality of Rome are all at night. The companies have distributed high protection sunscreens, supplements and water to employees who are on the scaffolding or on the road.
Public offices: employees in crisis without air conditioners
It's not just a question of construction sites, fields and factories. Even in public administration offices, employees gasp. Blame the old, often broken, air conditioning systems. Fallen under the guillotine of the spending review, a more elegant version of cuts to state spending. According to the local news, the situation is beyond the alarm threshold along the entire peninsula, from the northern region to the islands. In Rovigo, the unions denounce temperatures of up to 40 degrees in the offices and employees who bring penguins from home. Situations at the limit also in the ministries. In the courtrooms and the prosecutor's office in Rome, among the air conditioning that is not there, illnesses among the staff. Difficulties are registered in the offices of the Revenue Agency, in the headquarters of the Ministry of Enterprise and even in the Ministry of the Environment. Some trade unions have requested authorization for general agile work to deal with the situation of severe employee hardship. Many buildings are inadequate: in winter you chatter your teeth, while in summer you feel sick from the heat. The buildings should be renovated from top to bottom and insulated. A Superbonus would also be needed for buildings
Tourism: waiters, riders and guides have no protection
Not only tourists are grappling with the heat wave that has gripped the cities of art. To suffer even more from the consequences of the record temperatures are the workers in the sector, often forced to work under the scorching sun without the possibility of stopping. It applies to the waiters who have to go back and forth between the clubs and the outdoor tables, as well as for the tourist guides in the artistic sites and for the escorts of the groups through the historical centres. Also in this case, the trade unions protest, because there are no particular protections for them. Because never before have tourists arrived en masse as they have not seen in a long time, and the activities cannot stop. But also because it is a sector where undeclared work is no exception. The same goes for even more "invisible" workers such as riders: for them, it's a double effort, despite the spread of more "agile" and increasingly widespread means such as pedal-assisted bicycles. At least in Fiumicino they have distributed sunscreens to employees, especially useful for those who work in the yards.