St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Working conditions

Figures from 1991 (the most recent available) showed a total employed workforce of 33,440, with unemployment standing at 19.8 percent. More recent statistics, from 1999, suggest that unemployment stood at 22 percent. Figures cited by the newly elected Unity Labour Party say unemployment may be as high as 45 percent (although this number may be inflated for political reasons). Pay and working conditions are average by regional standards, and workers in agriculture, manufacturing, and the large public sector enjoy the protection of well-organized growers' associations and trade unions. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the government observes basic working legislation. Wages, although low by North American standards, are higher than in many poorer Caribbean nations and range between $100 and $300 per week for jobs in agriculture and manufacturing. The large civil service is well represented by trade unions and is able to negotiate substantial salary increases.

Conditions are toughest in agriculture, where many small farmers work remote and usually mountainous holdings without adequate irrigation or other inputs. Much of this work is carried out by families, and women, as well as some children, are widely involved in agricultural production as well as retailing.

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