Just today, I got my hands on a workers' pocket guide to the Labor Contract Law, China's new labor law that's been hailed as (or hoped to be) a panacea for many of China's labor problems, as well as for the recent, worrisome, social unrest and growing economic inequality. I had lots of other materials to choose from, some far more erudite and enlightening no doubt, but this one had diagrams, cartoons, and middle-school-level Chinese, so naturally I started with it.
It's a small, passport-sized book, limited to a few dozen pages, but it does an excellent job of introducing the law to any worker who's lucky enough to receive a copy. The law's taught in a Q & A format, with the questions pertaining to real-life problems at the beginning of each chapter: “Little Ming's factory didn't have money to pay her this month, so they gave her a box of pants off the assembly line and told her to go sell them on the street in order to get her monthly wage. Is this legal or not? Answer: No. It is not.”
I learned quite a bit, but wouldn't have thought it worth mentioning here until I got to the last chapter, which has the laconic title, “Life.” There's no labor law talk here, but simply a chapter that seeks to help the readers –most likely “peasant” migrant workers―to adjust to life in China's cities. “Life” is kind of a cross between the State Department Travel Warnings and Miss Manners, and it had me laughing on the subway (something it strictly forbids).