Approximately 70% of the workers in this mostly rural society are agricultural. Industry and commerce account for 13% of the labor force, and the remainder are in varying occupations. In 2001, the unemployment rate was 30%.
The nation's three major trade union confederations dissolved themselves in 1971, when the National Union of Cameroon Workers (Union Nationale des Travailleurs du Cameroun— UNTC) was formed. Renamed the Organization of Cameroon Workers' Associations (Organisation des Sociétés de Travailleurs Camerounais—OSTC) in 1985, it was affiliated with the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement prior to 1992. Later renamed the Confederation of Cameroonian Trade Unions (CCTU), it was the country's only labor federation until 1995, when the Union of Free Trade Unions of Cameroon was formed. In August 1992, the National Assembly passed a new labor code, permitting workers to form and join unions of their choosing. Under the new rules, groups of at least 20 workers may organize a union provided they register with the Ministry of Labor. In practice, unions have found it difficult to obtain registration. Those unions which are registered have been the subject of harassment and interference by the government. There was continued labor unrest in 2002.
There are minimum working age and safety and health regulations; however, a lack of resources have greatly compromised their enforcement. The minimum wage in 2002 was about $40 per month, and this was not enough to support a wage earner and family. The workweek is set at 40 hours in public and private nonagricultural firms, and 48 hours in agricultural endeavors. The minimum age of employment is 14 years, although this is not enforced. Child labor remains a huge problem in Cameroon.