V. I.   Lenin

The Working Day and Working Year in Moscow Gubernia

Published: Nevskaya Zvezda No. 21, August 12, 1912. Signed: V. I.. Published according to the text in Nevskaya Zvezda.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1975], Moscow, Volume 18, pages 262-269.
Translated: Stepan Apresyan
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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The work bearing this title, from the pen of Kozminykh Lanin, an engineer (Moscow, 1912, published by the Standing Commission of the Museum for the Promotion of Labour under the Moscow Branch of the Imperial Russian Technical Society. Price, 1 ruble 75 kopeks), is a summary of data relating to the end of 1908.

The data cover 219,669 workers, or 71,37 per cent of the total number of factory workers in the gubernia (307,773). The author says that he has “carefully studied the data on each industrial establishment in particular”, and has “included in the summary only that part of it which left no room for doubt”.

Such statistics would have been of outstanding interest, even though they come very late, had the data been tabulated more sensibly. Unfortunately, it is precisely this word that has to be used, for while Mr. Kozminykh-Lanin has compiled his tables most carefully, putting a very great deal of labour into the calculation of all sorts of totals and percentages, he has expended this labour irrationally.

The wealth of material seems to have overwhelmed the author. He has made hundreds and thousands of calculations that are absolutely superfluous and only encumbered his work, but he has not made some dozens of calculations that are absolutely necessary, since no general picture can be obtained without them.

Indeed, the author’s principal tables, which almost fill the whole of his book, contain detailed figures, such, for in stance, as that the workers who work from 9 to 10 hours a day   are divided into 16 categories according to the number of working hours in two successive weeks (from 109 to 120 hours), and the average number of working hours is calculated for each category! And all this has been done twice: for the workers engaged in production and for the auxiliary workers.

It has to be admitted that such detailing is, first of all, absolutely unnecessary and that it looks like indulging in statistics for their own sake, a kind of game with figures, to the detriment of a clear picture and of material fit for study. Secondly, nine-tenths of these “averages”, which the author has calculated to an accuracy of one per cent, are simply a waste of labour, for out of a thousand readers of the book (which will hardly find a thousand readers), only one reader will perhaps think this sort of “average” necessary (moreover, that one reader could have calculated it for himself if he had been so unfortunate as to need it!).

On the other hand, the book completely lacks absolutely indispensable summaries that the author could have drawn up with far less expenditure of labour and which one cannot do without if one wants to make a sensible study of the data of the survey. There are no summaries (1) giving totals, by production groups, of workers who work in one, two and three shifts; (2) classing workers according to production and auxiliary jobs; (3) giving average working hours according to production groups; (4) giving totals of working time of adults and juveniles; (5) singling out factories with various numbers of workers.

Let us dwell on this last point. The author seems so diligent—judging by the list he gives of the works which he has published or prepared for publication—and has such a wealth of interesting information at his disposal that a critical analysis of his methods may be not only of theoretical, but also of immediate practical use. We have already quoted the author where he says that he has “carefully studied the data on each industrial establishment in particular”.

It follows that a summary of the material, if only by the factory groups used even by our official statistics (up to 20 workers, 21–50, 51–100, 101–500, 501–1,000, and over 1,000), was perfectly possible. Was it necessary?

Undoubtedly. Statistics should not give arbitrary columns of figures but should, by means of figures, throw light on those different social types of the phenomenon under study that have fully emerged, or are emerging, in reality. Can there be any doubt that establishments employing 50 and those employing 500 workers belong to essentially different social types of the phenomenon we are interested in, or that the entire social development of all the civilised countries increases the difference between these types and leads to one of them superseding the other?

Let us take the data on the working day. From the author’s summary table of totals it can be concluded—provided we ourselves do a certain amount of necessary statistical work which we do not see in the book—that 33,000 workers (out of the 220,000 surveyed) work longer than 10 hours a day. The average duration of the working day of the 220,000 workers is 9\frac12 hours. The question arises: are not these workers, crushed by an excessive working day, employed in small establishments?

This question arises naturally and necessarily. It is by no means arbitrary. The political economy and statistics of all countries of the world oblige us to put precisely this question, for the prolongation of working hours by small establishments has been registered only too often. Capitalist economic conditions necessitate this prolongation in the case of small employers.

It turns out that the material at the author’s disposal did contain data for answering this highly important question, but they have disappeared in his summary! In his summary, the author gives us very long and worthless columns of detailed “averages” but does not give the necessary division of factories according to the number of workers.

In the case of Moscow Gubernia, such a division is even more necessary (if we may here use the comparative degree) than elsewhere, for in Moscow Gubernia we see a comparatively large number of small establishments alongside a huge concentration of production. According to statistics for 1910, there were altogether 1,440 establishments in the gubernia, employing 335,190 workers. One-half of this number of workers (i. e., 167,199) was concentrated in 66 factories, while at the other pole there were 669 establishments   employing a total of 18,277 workers. It is clear that we have here entirely different social types and that statistics which do not distinguish between them are no good at all.

The author was so absorbed in his columns of figures on the numbers of workers who work 94, 95, etc., to 144, hours in two successive weeks, that he left out altogether data on the number of establishments. The number is given in the second part of his work, which deals with the length of the working year; but the first part, which deals with the working day, gives no information on the number of establishments, although this information was no doubt available to the author.

The largest factories in Moscow Gubernia represent not only distinctive types of industrial establishment, but also distinctive types of population, with specific living and cultural (or rather cultureless) conditions. The singling out of these factories, and a detailed analysis of the data for each class of establishment, according to the number of workers, are a necessary condition for rational economic statistics.

Let us cite the more important totals from Mr. Kozminykh Lanin’s work.

As we have said, his survey of the length of the working day covers 219,669 factory workers of Moscow Gubernia, or 71.37 per cent of their total number, the textile workers being represented in his statistics more widely than workers engaged in other industries. The survey covered 74.6 per cent of all the textile workers and only 49–71 per cent of the other workers. Apparently, the survey was less extensive with regard to small establishments; in any case, the data on the number of working days in the year cover 58 per cent of the establishments (811 out of the 1,394 existing in 1908) and 75 per cent of the workers (231,130 out of 307,773). It is plainly the smaller establishments that have been left out.

The author gives summary data on the length of the working day only for all the workers put together. The result is an average of 9\frac12 hours a day for adults and 7\frac12   hours for juveniles. The number of juveniles, it should be noted, is not great: 1,363 against 218,306 adults. This suggests that juvenile workers in particular may have been “hidden” from the inspectors.

Out of the total of 219,669 workers there were 128,628 (58.56 per cent) working in one shift, 88,552 (40.31 per cent) working in two shifts and 2,489 (1.13 per cent) working in three shifts. Two-shift work predominates over one-shift work in the textile industry, where there are 75,391 working in two shifts (“in production”, i.e., exclusive of auxiliary workers) against 68,604 working in one shift. The addition of repair and auxiliary workers produces a total of 78,107 working in two shifts and 78,321 working in one shift. In the case of metalworkers, on the other hand, one-shift work predominates considerably (17,821 adult workers) over two-shift work (7,673).

Summing up the total of workers who work different numbers of hours a day, we obtain the following data:

Number of hours worked per day Number of workers
Up to 8 hours . . . 4,398
From 8 to 9 hours . . . 87,402
9 ” 10 ” . . . 94,403
10 ” 11 ” . . . 20,202 } 33,466
11 ” 12 ” . . . 13,189
12 or more hours . . . 75
Total . . . 219,669

This shows how negligible still is the number of workers in Russia who do not work more than 8 hours a day—a mere 4,398 out of 219,669. On the other hand, the number of workers whose working day is excessively, scandalously long is very great: 33,466 out of 220,000, or over 15 per cent, work more than 10 hours a day! And this without considering overtime work.

To proceed. The difference in the length of the working day of one-shift and two-shift workers can be seen from the following data, which refer only to adult “production workers”, i.e., exclusive of repair and auxiliary workers, who make up 8 per cent of the total.

Length of working day Percentage of workers (working
the indicated number of hours
a day)
One-shift Two-shift
Up to 8 hours . . . 1.3 1.0
From 8 to 9 hours . . . 13.3 81.9
9 ” 10 ” . . . 60.7 14.7
10 ” 11 ” . . . 15.2 1.4
11 ” 12 ” . . . 9.5 1.0
12 or more hours . . .
Total . . . 100.0 100.0

This shows, among other things, that 17 per cent of the two-shift workers work more than 9 hours a day, or more than is permitted even by the law of 1897, which Mr. Lanin justly regards as exceedingly outdated. Under this law, when work is carried on in two shifts, the number of hours worked per day must not exceed nine, calculated over a fortnight. And Mr. Lanin in all his calculations and tables takes precisely a period of “two successive weeks”.

Since a very definite and precise law is violated so openly, it is easy to imagine the fate of the other provisions of our factory legislation.

The average number of hours worked per day by a one-shift worker (only adult and only engaged in “production”) is 9.89. This implies prevalence of a ten-hour day without any reduction even on Saturdays, and exclusive of overtime work. Needless to say such a long working day is certainly excessive and cannot be tolerated.

The average number of hours worked per day by a two-shift worker is 8.97, i.e., there predominates in practice the nine-hour day which the law requires in this case. Its reduction to eight hours is particularly imperative because in the case of two-shift work the time from 10 p. m. to 4 (!!) a.m. is considered “night”, which means that in effect a very substantial portion of the night is considered to be “day” for the worker. A nine-hour day with night turned into day, and with constant night work—that is the situation prevailing in Moscow Gubernia!

In conclusion of our review of Mr. Kozminykh-Lanin’s data, we wish to point out that he finds the average duration of the working year to be 270 days. For textile workers,   however, the figure is somewhat smaller—268.8 days—and for metalworkers, a little greater—272.3.

The way in which Kozminykh-Lanin has analysed these data on the length of the working year is also most unsatisfactory. On the one hand, excessive, utterly senseless detailing: we find as many as 130 horizontal rows in the overall table on the length of the working year! Data on the numbers of establishments, workers, etc., are given here separately for each number of working days (per year) that occurs, beginning with 22 and ending with 366. Such “detailing” is more like complete failure to “digest” the raw material.

On the other hand, here too we do not find the necessary summaries either on the numbers of workers in the factories or on the difference in motive power (manual and mechanical factories). Hence one cannot obtain a picture enabling one to understand how various conditions affect the length of the working year. The wealth of data collected by the author has gone to waste through very bad handling.

We can ascertain—roughly and far from accurately—the significance of the distinction between large-scale and small-scale production even from the author’s data, provided we re-analyse them somewhat. Let us take the four main groups of establishments according to length of the working year: (1) those working up to 200 days a year; (2) from 200 to 250; (3) from 250 to 270, and (4) 270 days or longer.

By summing up, for each of these categories, the number of factories and that of the workers of both sexes, we obtain the following picture:

Length of working
number of
days per
Number of Average
number of
per factory
factories workers
Up to 200 days . . . . 96 74 5,676 76
200 ” 250 ” . . . . 236 91 14,400 158
250 ” 270 ” . . . . 262 196 58,313 297
270 or more ” . . . . 282 450 152,741 339
Total 270 811 231,130 285

This shows clearly that the larger the factory, the longer (on the whole) the working year. Consequently, the social and economic importance of small undertakings is much less   in reality than appears from their share in, say, the total number of workers. The working year in these undertakings is so much shorter than in the large ones that their share in production must be quite insignificant. Besides, with a short working year, these factories (the small ones) are incapable of forming a permanent body of proletarians, hence the workers here are more “bound” to the land, probably earn less, are less cultured, etc.

A large factory intensifies exploitation by prolonging the working year to the utmost and thus bringing into existence a proletariat which has completely severed its ties with the countryside.

If we were to study the differences in length of the working year depending on the technical organisation of factories (manual and mechanical motive power, etc.), we could undoubtedly derive a whole series of highly interesting indications of the living conditions of the population, the position of the workers, the evolution of our capitalism, etc. But the author, one can say, has not so much as touched on these questions.

All he has done is to give figures on the average duration of the working year in factories of the different groups of industries. The variations of the general average are very small: from 246 days in Group IX (processing of mineral substances) to 291 in Group XII (chemical industry).

These differences, as the reader will see, are far less than those in the duration of the working year in small and large factories in general, irrespective of the industry to which they belong.

Differences in the type of industry are less characteristic, and less important for social and economic statistics than differences in the scale of production. This does not mean, of course, that the former differences can be ignored. What it does mean is that sensible statistics are absolutely impossible unless the latter differences are taken into account.


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