In 2002, the estimated workforce numbered 100,000. As of 1996, about 70% were engaged in services, 8.3% in manufacturing, 17% in commerce, 5.9% in agriculture, and7.8% in transport and communications. About 20% of the labor force was unemployed in 1997.
Suriname has numerous small unions, representing individual workplaces or enterprises, organized into six union federations. Among them are the General Confederation of Trade Unions, sometimes called the Moederbond (Mother Union); the Progressive Workers Organization, whose members are predominantly from the commercial and banking sectors; the Centrale 47, which includes bauxite and sugar unions; and the Central Organization for Civil Service Employees. Nearly 60% of the workforce is organized and about one-half are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Workers, with the exception of civil servants, are freely allowed to strike and do so often. Antiunion discrimination is illegal.
The minimum working age is 14 but this is not sufficiently enforced and many children work, especially in the informal sector. There is no set minimum wage. The lowest wage for civil servants was $100 per month in 2002. The standard workweek is 45 hours and time worked in excess of that requires overtime pay.