The labor force was estimated at about 2.7 million in 2001. In 1995, estimated employment by sector was as follows: services 55%, industry 23%, and agriculture 22%. Since 1958, regional workshops to combat underemployment have provided jobs in land development, reforestation, terracing, and drainage. Full employment has been a goal of successive development plans; however, rates of unemployment and underemployment have remained high. The estimated unemployment rate in 2000 was 15.6%.
The only trade federation is the General Union of Tunisian Workers (Union Générale des Travailleurs Tunisiens—UGTT). In 2002, about 15% of the workforce belonged to the UGTT. Unions have the right to strike after a mandatory notice period of ten days. Regional labor councils seek to foster cooperation between management and labor. Collective bargaining contracts cover 80% of the private workforce.
The labor code sets the regular workweek at 48 hours with one 24-hour rest period for most sectors. If the workday exceeds 10 hours, overtime rates must be paid. All workers are entitled to annual paid leave of up to 18 working days. All nonagricultural employers with over 40 workers are required to have a medical facility available. In 2002, the minimum wage was $138 per month in industry and $4.27 per day in agriculture.
The minimum age for agricultural work is 13 years and the minimum age for manufacturing is 16. Children must attend school until 16 and have restricted working hours until the age of 18. The laws are somewhat effectively enforced but children can still be seen performing agricultural work in rural areas and working as vendors in urban areas.