In 2002, there were 3.7 million employed wage earners in urban areas. In 2001, 30% were engaged in agriculture, 25% in industry, and 45% in services. The unemployment rate officially stood at 14% in that year, with significant numbers of workers underemployed.
In 2002, only 12% of the economically active population was affiliated with labor unions. The largest concentration of unions has been in the Guayas and Pichincha provinces. The dominant groups are the Ecuadoran Confederation of Class Organizations (Confederación Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones Clasistas—CEDOC), the Ecuadoran Confederation of Workers (Confederación de Trabajadores del Ecuador—CTE), and the Ecuadoran Confederation of Free Trade Union Organizations (Confederación Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones Sindicales Libres—CEOSL). These three confederations form the United Front of Workers (Frente Unido de Trabajadores—FUT). The right to strike is protected by law after a mandatory 10 day cooling off period.
The labor code provides for a 40-hour workweek. Special permits are necessary for women and minors and for workers in certain hazardous industries. Except in special circumstances, boys under 12 and girls are 14 are prohibited by law from working. Child labor remains a significant problem, however, with an estimated 28% of children aged 10 to 11 engaged in at least part-time work in 2002. The minimum monthly wage plus mandatory bonuses equaled about $118 per month in 2002. This wage does not provide a satisfactory standard of living for a family, but most earn more than this proscribed amount. Health and safety standards are generally protected by the Labor Code.