Written: Written on May 4 (17), 1913
Published: Published on May 9, 1913 in Pravda No. 105. Printed from the Pravda text. Signed: F..
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 236-237.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Russia’s industrial boom over the last few years has been accompanied by the usual rapid development of the building industry. Vestnik Finansov recently carried out a poll among the municipal authorities in 158 towns of Russia on this question. Mr. Veselovsky in Russkoye Slovo gives the following data from the poll: annual construction and remodelling of houses:
in 1907 ............ 11,961 ” 1908 ............13,709 ” 1909 ............15,093 ” 1910 ............10,674
In some three years, the building industry has expanded nearly 50 per cent! That the capitalists are making vast profits on this industrial boom can be seen from the prices of bricks. The prices reach 33 rubles per thousand in St. Petersburg, and 36 rubles in the more industrialised Moscow.
Municipal brickworks exist in only 50 or 60 towns, so that the possibility of combating the insatiable appetites of the building capitalists is insignificant. And, for that matter, our towns, as a result of the property franchise, the complete absence of free elections, etc., have been completely handed over to a handful of money-bags, who take municipal interests to be those of their own pockets.
The series of notorious collapses of houses under construction shows the incredibly scandalous practices in building, the carelessness and the total disregard for human life. Intensified building activity, with thousands and thousands of rubles passing into the pockets of contractors, engineers, capitalists, and the mass of sacrifices offered up by the workers on the altar of capital—that is what the industrial “boom” means.
And what of the position of the hundreds of thousands of building workers?
We learn the following about their wages from the poll. The day’s wage of a building worker varies with the size of the town as follows:
Population Day’s wage of a building worker Under 5,000 . . 5,000–10,000 . . 10,000–25,000 . . 25,000–50,000 . . 50,000–75,000 . . 75,000–100,000 . . 100,000 and over . . 1 ruble 33 kopeks 1 ” 36 ” 1 ” 41 ” 1 ” 53 ” 1 ” 56 ” 1 ” 87 ” 1 ” 80 ”
Even in the biggest cities, the worker’s wage does not reach 2 rubles a day! One can imagine what these workers suffer with the present high cost of living, when very often they have to maintain a family in another town or in the country. Moreover, building work is seasonal, it does not continue the year round. During the few months of employment, the worker must earn enough to maintain himself and his family throughout the year.
These figures are evidence of the workers’ poverty and utter insecurity.
It is more difficult for building workers to unite and get organised than for workers in factories. All the more insistently should workers in the van campaign for the education and organisation of building workers, who can seek help nowhere but from their own workers’ paper, their own workers’ trade union, and their own more developed proletarian comrades.
 Vestnik Finansov, Promyshlennosti i Torgovli (Finance, Industry and Trade Messenger)—a weekly of the Ministry of Finance, published in St. Petersburg from 1885 to 1917.