The labor force of Burkina Faso numbers 4.7 million and includes people 10 years of age and older. The government is the largest formal employer with about 40,000 public sector workers. A large proportion of the male labor force migrates annually to neighboring countries for seasonal employment. There are no official unemployment figures for Burkina Faso, but regardless, these figures would have little significance in such a low-income economy. Although there may be few people considered as unemployed, many of these people only live off subsistence farming . There are no unemployment benefits, and those who do not work rely on support from charities or their families. Many people would like a modern sector job but are forced instead to survive by working on their family farms or in casual informal sector activities in the urban areas (such as hawking , portering, and scavenging).
A labor court enforces the rights of workers as detailed in the national labor code, and trade unions are legal. The modern sector has a workforce of about 450,000, of which 40,000 are civil servants. Trade union membership is 60 percent in the public sector and 50 percent among private sector employees. Although union participation is small in relation to the total population, since there is such strong membership among workers and because the unions are strategically located in the modern sector and in the urban areas, they have considerable power when they exercise their right to strike.
The relatively high GDP growth from 1995 onwards has improved living standards only marginally. The guaranteed minimum industrial wage remained at US$0.44 per hour from 1988 to 1994. It increased by 10 percent after the devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994. Trade unions only gained a 3 to 5 percent rise in public sector salaries in 1996 and another 5 to 10 percent in 1999.
The Constitution of the Fourth Republic of Burkina Faso guarantees the collective and individual political and social rights of the country's citizens.