Agricultural work accounted for approximately 80% of the labor force in 2002. The remaining 20% are engaged in industry and services. The right to form and join unions is limited by the government. The National Confederation of Eritrean Workers, affiliated with the EPLF during the last fight for independence, is an independent labor organization that represents over 23,000 workers distributed in 129 unions. Workers have rights to organize and bargain collectively.
The minimum working age is 18, although there are not resources to provide for enforcement. Since only about 37% of children attend school, many are working, especially on family farms. Most wage earners are employed by the public sector. There is no minimum wage; salaries in the public sector range from $24 to $288 per month. This wage does not provide a family with an adequate lifestyle. The workweek is set at 44.5 hours. Health and safety standards are not regularly enforced.