The labor force numbered approximately 24 million in 2002. Of these, 40% worked in agriculture, 38% in services, and 22% in industry. The unemployment rate was 10.8% in 2002. Another6.1% of the workforce was underemployed.
A 1946 law authorized the formation of labor unions and enabled them to engage in collective bargaining, and the right to strike was legally permitted in 1963, although general, solidarity, and wildcat strikes are explicitly prohibited. Employers' unions also exist, but members of one kind of union are prohibited from joining the other. There are four confederations, three public employees' unions, and 27 independent unions. As of 2002, slightly more than 13% of the total labor force was unionized. Union membership was largest in the textile industry, tobacco manufacturing, public utilities, transport and communications, and coal mining. After the 1960 overthrow of the Menderes government, trade unions pressed the government to act upon their demands for the right to strike, for collective labor contracts, and for various social benefits, which were provided for in law but had not been fully implemented. The right to strike and the right to bargain collectively remain restricted.
A detailed labor code administered by the Ministry of Labor controls many aspects of labor-management relations. Turkey has a basic 45-hour workweek, with a maximum of 7.5 hours per day and Saturday a partial holiday. Overtime is limited, and must be paid for at a 50% premium. No overtime is permitted in night work, underground work, or in industries considered dangerous to health. The minimum wage was $124 per month in 2002. Workers usually are entitled to one paid day off per week. The minimum working age is 15, but in practice many children work out of economic necessity. It was estimated that one-third of Turkish workers were between the ages of 6–19.