Antigua and Barbuda - Working conditions
The total active labor force in 1998 was about 30,000. Of this figure 8,319 were immigrant workers. In 1998 the government employed 10,984 persons, or about 38.3 percent of the total labor force, a trend that has gone as far back as 1994.
The unemployment rate fell from 9 percent in 1997 to 5 percent in 1998. During the latter part of 2000, the government announced a freeze on employment after cash flow problems made it difficult for it to meet its wage and pension bills, which amount to as much as US$5.1 million monthly.
The lowest age for employment is age 16. Children do not form part of the labor force, but they usually assist on family agricultural plots in the afternoon after school and during school vacations. The government has a youth skills training program which provides on-thejob training.
As much as 45.5 percent of the country's workforce are women. More significantly, close to 60 percent of all public sector employees are women. Most women who work are employed in the hotel industry and in teaching.
The leading trade unions in Antigua and Barbuda are the Antigua Workers' Union, the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association, the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers, and the Leeward Islands Air Line Pilots' Association. A 1975 labor code governs labor relations in the country. There was some industrial unrest in the airline industry and commercial sector during 1999 and 2000.
In 1997 the government granted public sector workers a 6 percent increase in wages and salaries for the period 1997-2000. In 1998 private sector workers had wage increases averaging around 4 percent. These wage hikes were long overdue and were granted to meet the rise in the cost of living.