Liberia - Working conditions

The government is the largest employer in Liberia, but it is a sad truth of Liberia's decimated economy that there is little formal employment. In 1999, estimates indicated that large-scale agriculture engaged 8 percent of the labor force, industry 8 percent, and services 22 percent, with the remaining 62 percent of the working population engaged in small-scale, family, mostly subsistence, agriculture. However, it was also estimated that 70 percent of the country's workforce was unemployed. Clearly, the majority of the population of Liberia works outside the formal economy, most likely in subsistence agriculture, bartering , illegal mining, and other informal economy activities.

What little legislation there is for the protection of workers is often ignored. The civil war in Liberia has seen a collapse in government services, and regulation of employment conditions is not seen as a priority by the government. There is no minimum wage, and children are often made to work in agriculture on small family farms from the age of 5 upwards, contributing to low attendance figures at schools. Slavery is officially banned in Liberia, but the civil war has produced a situation where it has been possible for people to be intimidated or coerced into working without any payment or the right to leave. Recent regimes in Liberia have given international observers great cause for concern over human rights, particularly over employment conditions and the plight of children.

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