The labor force in Serbia and Montenegro was estimated at three million in 2001. The unemployment rate stood at 28% in 2002, with some areas experiencing even higher figures.
With the exception of the military, all workers are entitled to form unions. However, the majority of unions are government sponsored or affiliated: independent unions are rare. Therefore, unions have not been effective in improving work conditions or wage structure increases. Virtually all of the workers in the formal economy are union members. Strikes are permitted and are utilized especially to collect unpaid wages. Collective bargaining is still at rudimentary level.
The minimum employment age is 16 although younger children frequently work on family farms. The monthly minimum wage in 2002 was about $47. This does not provide a decent living wage for a family. The official workweek is set at 40 hours. Health and safety standards are not a priority due to harsh economic circumstances.