There were about one million persons in the labor force in 2000. In 2002, more than 35% of the labor force was unemployed.
The constitution guarantees citizens the right to form labor unions with restrictions on the military, police, and government workers. Approximately 50% of the workforce is organized. The Confederation of Trade Unions of Macedonia (SSSM) is the labor confederation which is the successor to the old Communist Party labor confederation, and is still the government's primary negotiating partner on social issues. Employees have little bargaining power in the weak economic environment. Strikes may be utilized to protect employee interests.
Macedonia has adopted many provisions from the old Yugoslav SFR labor code, including a 42 hour workweek and a minimum employment age of 15 years. The law provides that workplaces must meet minimum occupational health and safety standards but reports indicate that these are not effectively enforced. Legally, the minimum wage is two-thirds of the average wage, which was about $155 per month in 2002. This does not provide a family with a living wage, and many are engaged in additional economic activity.