In June 1999, the labor force of 4.3 million workers was distributed as follows: industry 25%; agriculture 24%; and services 51%. The unemployment rate in 2001 was estimated at4.1%.
All Cuban workers belong to a trade union, under the central control of the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CUTC), which is affiliated with the Communist-oriented World Federation of Trade Unions. Independent unions are explicitly prohibited. Those who attempt to engage in independent union activities face government persecution and harassment. Strikes and collective bargaining are not legally permitted. Unemployment, which the Castro government estimated at 33% of the workforce in 1958, was practically abolished, but a limited unemployment scheme, in which redundant workers received 70% of their former wages until rehired, was introduced in the early 1980s to rationalize certain sectors of the economy. Underemployment is a chronic problem, and has been exacerbated by the idling of thousands of industrial workers whose jobs rely on foreign imports. Labor has been shifted to agriculture to compensate for fuel and machinery shortages affecting food and production.
The minimum wage varies, depending on the type of employment. As of 2002, the monthly wage was $8.25 for a maid, $9.50 for a bilingual office clerk, and $10.75 for a gardener. The minimum wage is supplemented by social security consisting of free medical care and education, and subsidized housing and food; a worker must still earn significantly more than minimum wage to support a family. The eight-hour workday, a weekly rest period, an annual paid vacation of one month, and workers' compensation are guaranteed by the constitution. The work week is 44 hours, with shorter workdays for hazardous occupations.