Written: Written on May 20 (June 2), 1913
Published: Published on May 31, 1913 in Pravda No. 124. Printed from the Pravda text. Signed: N. N..
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 247-248.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The metalworkers in Germany, as in other countries, are in the van of class-conscious and organised proletarians. They have raised the question, among other things, of regular annual holidays for workers.
The manufacturers resist this measure with all their strength, pleading the “heavy burden” of the cost involved. But the German metalworkers, in a special pamphlet published by their union, have given exact figures to refute these selfish and hypocritical evasions. The workers have proved that between 1905 and 1910 the net profit in 93 joint-stock companies in the German metallurgical industry averaged 13.4 per cent!
It would be sufficient to reduce this profit by no more than 2 per cent to give all workers regular holidays.
But at the present time the system of holidays is still quite inadequately developed, and for the most part is being applied by the capitalists to further indenture the workers. The German metalworkers have taken two polls on the question of holidays, in 1908 and 1912.
In 1908, workers had holidays at 138 factories. Of the 75,591 workers engaged in these factories, 13,579, i.e., 17.9 per cent, had holidays.
In 1912, workers had holidays at 389 factories. Of the 233,927 workers employed there, 34,257, i.e., 14 per cent, had holidays.
In all, only three factories in a thousand in the metallurgical industry had a system of holidays! Of the total number of metalworkers only 1.8 per cent, i.e., less than one-fiftieth, had holidays.
Most factories allowing holidays—namely, more than nine-tenths of them—grant holidays only to workers who have been employed a fairly long time at the works. Of the 389 factories (with 233,927 workers), 84 factories employing 140,209 workers require a length of service from five to ten years (!) before a worker gets the right to a holiday.
Such holidays are obviously a ridiculously small improvement for the workers, and are mainly a bait to keep the workers in the factory and a means of combating strikes!
In most cases (for 72 per cent of the workers in the factories mentioned) the length of the holiday does not exceed one week. For 10 per cent, the period is less than a week, and only for 16 per cent is it more than a week (up to two weeks).
In most factories allowing holidays (97 per cent), workers going on holiday are paid their previous wages, or an average weekly wage.
We find, therefore, that even in the leading industry of an advanced country the system of holidays for workers is disgracefully inadequate. But the workers are coining to realise the need for regular and adequate rest and by their insistence the organised workers will be able to achieve success in this sphere too.