The banana industry has depended on small family farms for over 150 years. Rural labor is different from many banana-producing countries in that there are few large plantations. The vast sugar plantations operating during colonial times have disappeared, replaced by small banana farms. As a result, rural working relationships tend to be based on the family or the community. Wages are generally US$5-10 per day. Manufacturing and the tourism sector offer better wages and conditions to St. Lucians, but pay is still approximately one-third of what would be paid for similar work in the United States.
|Household Consumption in PPP Terms|
|Country||All food||Clothing and footwear||Fuel and power a||Health care b||Education b||Transport & Communications||Other|
|Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.|
|a Excludes energy used for transport.|
|b Includes government and private expenditures.|
|SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.|
The St. Lucia government estimated that the total labor force was about 73,000 in 1999, and that the unemployed comprised about 15 percent of the workforce. There is no unemployment relief in St. Lucia and those without work quickly face extreme hardship.
Most workers, especially in the larger factories, are entitled to join trade unions and enjoy certain guaranteed rights such as sick pay. There is a national insurance scheme, which provides basic benefits for industrial injury, maternity leave for mothers, and pensions for the elderly. In most cases, however, payments are barely adequate to cover the essentials. Trade unions are influential in St. Lucia, especially those representing public sector employees. They are less active in the tourism industry, where employment is usually casual and part-time in nature. There is little overt child labor in St. Lucia, and women are well represented in all areas of work, especially in business and education.