The labor force consisted of some 8.4 million persons in 1999. In 2000 the service sector engaged an estimated 50%, agriculture 20%, with industry accounting for the remaining 30%. The government reported unemployment of 3.3%, but international organizations estimated unemployment in 2001 at 10% or higher.
Although workers are entitled to join or form unions, registration generally is a lengthy and difficult process. The Confederation of Free Trade Unions claimed about 300,000 members in 2002, but that number is considered to be high. Some workers who have joined independent unions are subjected to various forms of harassment, indicating hostility by local authorities and state-sponsored trade unions. Workers are entitled to strike after all conciliation procedures have been exhausted. Employers must be notified 15 days prior to a strike.
The minimum age for employment is 14 but only for part-time work. Children under 18 have legal protections from hazardous work, and those between 14 and 16 years of age may only work with parental permission. As of 2002, the minimum wage was about $24 per month, which falls below the minimum subsistence amount. The legal maximum workweek is 48 hours, although most enterprises maintain a 40-hour workweek.