China’s economy-society today, excepting high officials and capitalists, is made up principally of two status groups. One is the formal employees-workers who are protected by the state’s so-called “labor” laws-regulations and enjoy good benefits, who include the white collar employees of state agencies-units and of the larger formal enterprises, and only small numbers of blue-collar workers privileged with formal status. The other is the informal workers-employees who are not protected by the state’s labor laws and do not have (or have only low level) social benefits, including mainly the peasant migrant workers and the other working members of their “half worker half cultivator” families. This article documents in detail that the former totals just one-sixth of the total workforce and is in fact in large measure something of a privileged status group, while the latter totals five-sixths. The so-called labor laws today in fact have little to do with the majority of true laborers. The gap between the two status groups are the key to the social-economic crisis confronting China today and cries out for reform.
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