Being able to take a seat in an air-conditioned room and drink cold water is a great relief for outdoor workers — particularly on scorching summer or freezing winter days.
But such a refuge is not easy to find for the city's outdoor army of workers, such as food delivery men, taxi drivers and sanitation operatives. That's why they are so often seen sitting and eating under trees, taking advantage of the shade.
By the end of this month, Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions will launch 93 rest stations for outdoor workers, where they can rest, refill water bottles and charge phones.
The first station opened last Friday, located in Jing'an District Employees Service Center on Changping Road. The district's federation of trade unions set up a rest station in an area of about 5 square meters in the center next to the consulting windows in the hall.
The station provides seats, tables, a fridge containing water, a microwave to heat meals and a medical kit. In addition, there are mobile phone chargers and an electric bike charger. The station has arranged with a nearby stadium for workers to be able to use its toilets.
"I usually sit in the janitors' room in the nearby stadium as they provide water for us," said a sanitation worker, Ji Yahong, 45. "But the janitors also have to work in the small space."
Ji, from Jiangsu Province, has been working as a sanitation worker in Shanghai for eight years. "It's not easy to find a place to rest on the streets," said Ji, while charging his mobile phone in the rest station. "As our break time is very short, it's too far to come back to the team station during the break."
Ji's observations were echoed by Gui Zhenbiao, 43, a food delivery man, who was also taking advantage of the new rest station. "This summer is so hot for us delivery men," said Gui. "I drink three to four bottles of water during a single break."
Gui's busiest time is when everyone else is eating so he gets his break in the afternoon. "I usually find myself a shade of tree and sit on the electric bike, leaning against the delivery box. But resting on the seats here is much more comfortable, and I can charge my electric bike."
Both Ji and Gui said they hoped more rest stations will open in the city.
"For us who are working nearby, it's very convenient. But for my colleagues who are responsible for other streets, it is too far for them to come here," said Ji.
"We are promoting the rest station service via sanitation workers' team and grass-roots authorities," said Tan Zhenyong, deputy president of Jing'an Federation of Trade Unions. "We also hope the workers will promote the rest station by word of mouth."
Tan said the federation wants to serve as a role model and encourage more companies or institutes to provide rest spaces for outdoor workers. "It doesn't have to be equipped with fridges, just a place to rest, with water to drink."
Jing'an has five out of the proposed 93 rest stations and three of them have already been put into operation.
The city level federation provides an annual 30,000 yuan (,500) subsidy for each rest station.