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 Soviet Union Information Bureau

LABOR


AT the close of 1927 the output of Soviet industries was estimated at 10 per cent above pre-war, while the labor force was about equal to that of 1913. The gain in labor efficiency is the more marked when one considers that the length of the average working day has been reduced by about 25 per cent as compared with 1913.

Real wages for workers in industry in 1926-27 were about 1 per cent above those of 1913. This does not take account of the various additional benefits and services received gratis by the workers. As a charge upon the industries these benefits and services make an addition amounting to 32 per cent of the total payroll.

The highest expenditures of this character are reported by the oil industry, which pays out 6 per cent of the amount of the payroll for additional benefits for the workers.

Money wages have risen steadily for the past few years. In the large-scale industries they increased 17 per cent in 1927. Wages of office workers are generally higher than those of industrial workers. Wages in Moscow are about 35 per cent higher than in other cities.

The labor efficiency has risen through better industrial processes and better machinery. Output per worker in the Soviet Union is still low by Western European standards, but it has been showing a healthy rate of advance. The advance has been aided by a campaign against absenteeism. In 1913 the days of actual work per worker in industry were 257. In the fiscal year 1921-22 they had fallen to 219.5. In 1926-27 they were 262.1.

On the other hand the length of the normal working day, which was 10 hours before the war, was reduced to 8 hours at the beginning of the Soviet régime, and for dangerous occupations to 6 hours. During 1926-27 the working day averaged 7.5 hours.

The Council of People's Commissars, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Soviet State, in November, 1927, decreed the gradual introduction of the 7-hour day in industry. This is being put in force first in the textile industry.

Labor conditions are regulated by the Code of Labor Laws and by collective agreements between employers and the trade unions. Workers are hired generally through Government labor exchanges and the trade unions. Labor disputes are referred to Arbitration Committees, on which both the management and the labor union are represented. Since wages follow productive efficiency, the worker feels that he has a stake in the increasing efficiency of the industrial process. This feeling is a natural corollary of his proprietary position in respect to the industry and the country generally.

Under the labor laws no children under 14 years may be employed in industry. Between the ages of 14 and 16 a 4-hour day is permitted, and between the ages of 16 and 18 a 6-hour day. All industries are required to employ and train a specified quota of apprentices.

During the year there are fourteen legal holidays for workers. In addition each worker has a two weeks' vacation with pay, and in dangerous or heavy vocations an additional two weeks is allowed. In 146 of the dangerous trades a shorter working day is in effect.

Women workers receive from six to eight weeks' vacation with pay before and after childbirth.

The special benefits and services provided by employers under the law include free or nominal rentals for housing, free fuel, water, electric light, transportation, special working clothing, dental and medical service, social insurance (see section on Insurance).

Safety and health regulations are strictly enforced by labor inspectors with the result that much progress has been made in reducing the number of accidents and occupational diseases.

The right to strike is maintained in respect to State enterprises as well as private factories. Under the arbitral provisions of the Labor Code strikes have been reduced to a minimum during the past few years.

Number of Persons Gainfully Occupied (Average)
  1927-28 (estimated) 1926-27
Agriculture 60,696,000 59,623,000
Industry and Handicraft 5,221,000 5,056,000
Construction 725,000 660,000
Transportation 1,560,000 1,570,000
Telegraph and Telephone 93,000 93,000
Trade 1,163,000 1,115,000
Education 753,000 731,000
Health Service 366,000 355,000
Other State, Cooperative and Private Organizations 922,000 962,000
Other Persons Gainfully Occupied 3,895,000 3,671,000
Total 75,394,000 73,836,000

The total number of workers in industry was 3,075,000 last year; of this the census industry had 2,564,000.

Number of Workers in Census Industry (1)
(exclusive of flour, baking, printing, and power plant industries)
Years Production Goods Consumption Goods Total
1922-23 794,900 615,400 1,410,300
1923-24 874,100 693,800 1,567,900
1924-25 975,700 877,000 1,852,700
1925-26 1,255,200 1,079,600 2,334,800
1926-27 1,374,600 1,094,500 2,469,100

Number of Workers in Large-Scale State Industry
Year Number of Workers Per Cent Gain Over Preceding Year
192223 1,161,100 16.3
1923-24 1,308,700 12.8
1924-25 1,529,900 16.9
1925-26 1,919,300 25.4
1926-27 2,021,000 5.2

The average number of workers employed in large-scale State industry during the first half of 1927-28 was 2,103,000, an increase of 5.5 per cent over the corresponding period of 1926-27.

Hours of Work 1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
Average number of working days per year 262.1 259.8 262.8
Average length of working day 7.6 7.5 7.4
Average number of hours worked per year 1,992 1,949 1,945

Average Monthly Wages in Census Industry
  1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
Industries Rubles
Metal 49.71 62.91 70.87
Textile 37.32 45.30 51.35
Mining 38.34 51.97 58.05
Chemical 44.06 54.23 60.46
Food 56.01 64.21 68.95
Average for all industries 43.48 54.04 60.38
Average for Moscow 66.15 74.90 81.90

Average wages in census industry for January, 1928, amounted to 67.17 rubles, an increase of 17 per cent over January, 1927. The average wages in Moscow amounted to 92.64 rubles.

Wage Groups in Census Industry
(Number of workers in each group as per cent of the total)
Monthly Wages (rubles) March
  1924 1925 1926 1927
Up to 30 39.6 29.8 15.7 9.4
30- 50 33.5 37.4 31.0 28.3
50- 70 1.6 18.3 24.2 27.5
70-100 8.0 9.7 17.7 22.2
100-150 2.5 3.7 8.8 10.6
Above 10 0.8 1.1 2.6 2.0
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Food Ration Per Adult Worker
(Monthly Average, in kilograms)
  1923 1924 1925 1926
Wheat Bread 9.65 13.23 14.66 15.55
Rye Bread 22.76 16.40 12.76 11.54
Meat 3.52 5.76 6.42 6.15
Sugar 0.5 1.1 1.3 1.5
Butter 0.14 0.21 0.25 0.27

TRADE UNIONS.- Trade unions play a most important role in both the social and economic scheme of the Soviet Union. Membership is entirely voluntary. Trade union officers are elected directly by the members and are directly responsible to them.

There are twenty-three large central trade unions in the U.S.S.R. These are united in the Central Council of Trade Unions.

The trade unions, through their factory committees, have organized special production committees in State factories and enterprises. There are over 50,000 of these production committees. Collaborating with engineers and specialists in the industries, the committees have a splendid record of accomplishment in increasing the output of the individual worker, facilitating inventions and bringing about better organization of work and higher rationalization of industry.

The cultural-educational work of the trade unions has brought equally impressive results and has been a mighty factor in the work of stamping out illiteracy. This work is an organic part of every department of the labor organization. The educational program includes the formation of clubs, libraries, schools, discussion circles of all kinds, the production of newspapers and other literature. The trade unions now maintain about 4,000 clubs and nearly 10,000 libraries.

The growth of trade union membership is shown in the following table:

  Oct. 1925 Oct. 1926 July 1, 1927
Industry 2,787,600 3,319,700 3,566,100
Administration, Trade 2,056,600 2,400,600 2,570,400
Transportation, Communications 1,268,600 1,516,900 1,569,00
Agriculture 780,300 1,094,900 1,200,001
Building 576,200 743,000 819,901
Others 377,500 466,100 526,200
Total 7,846,800 9,541,200 10,710,251,60

Membership of trade unions as of October 1, 1928, was 11,034,600.

UNEMPLOYMENT.- Despite the steady rise of industry and the attendant increases in the labor force, unemployment remains at a high figure because of the rapid increase of population and the constant influx of young peasants to the industrial centers. Of the 1,352,800 registered unemployed at the beginning of 1928, 263,900, or nearly 20 per cent, were men seeking jobs in industry who had never before been employed in industrial work. There is little unemployment among skilled workers.

Unemployment figures vary with the seasons. It reaches its peak in the winter and early spring and declines by 300,000,000 to 500,000 during the summer months, when irrigation and reclamation work gives much temporary employment and many of the jobless ones of the city can be absorbed in the agricultural field.

Number of unemployed in the U.S.S.R. as of January 1:

1924 1,240,000
1925 980,000
1926 988,000
1927 7,350,000
1928 1,352,000

The expenditures for unemployment (pensions, etc.) during the past four years were as follows:

  Federal and Local Budgets Rubles Social Insurance Fund Rubles Trade Unions Rubles Total Rubies
1923-24 4,350,000 18,000,000 4,000,000 26,350,000
1924-25 14,000,000 30,000,000 7,500,000 51,500,000
1925-26 17,200,000 46,000,000 10,000,000 73,200,000
1926-27 23,000,000 66,000,000 10,000,000 99,000,000
Total 58,550,000 160,000,000 31,500,000 253,050,000

This does not include the earnings of the collectives of unemployed which have been organized to render various services.

SOCIAL INSURANCE.- Social insurance, conducted by the State, and under the direct control of the workers' organizations, includes insurance against disability and unemployment, for women during and after pregnancy, and covers mortuary payments to helpless dependents. This insurance is a charge against the employing industry, whether State, cooperative or private. Every employer must contribute 4.5 per cent of the amount of his payroll to the insurance fund.

LABOR

The growth of social insurance is shown in the following table:

  1924-25 1925-26 1926-27
Number of Workers Insured 6,720,000 8,166,000 8,900,000
Number of Pensioners 440,000 576,100 68S,00
Number of Persons sent for Treatment to Sanitariums 316,000 351,000 514,000
Total Amount Collected for Social Insurance funds, rubles 461,000,000 681,000,000 852,000,000
Average Monthly Payments to Unemployed, rubles 8 11 15
Average Monthly Payments to Invalids, rubles 72 17 20