In 2002, the workforce numbered about 300,000. Approximately 75% of workers were engaged in agriculture, with industry, commerce and services accounting for 19% of the labor force. The government provided jobs to 6% of the workforce in 2002.
The Labor Act of 1990 allows all workers (except civil servants, police, and military personnel) to form associations and trade unions. Approximately 10% of the workforce is unionized, which is about 30,000 workers. Strikes are permitted with 14 days' notice (21 days for essential services) to the Commissioner of Labor. Collective bargaining occurs even though unions are small and fragmented. Minimum wages and hours of employment are set by six joint industrial councils (commerce, artisans, transport, the port industry, agriculture, and fisheries), but only 20% of the labor force is covered by minimum wage legislation. The minimum wage was $.66 per day in 2002. Most Gambians pool their resources within extended families in order to meet their basic needs. The statutory working age is 18, but because of limited opportunities for secondary schooling, most children begin working at age 14.