V. I. Lenin

Review.{1} I. M. Kozminykh-Lanin. Overtime at Factories and Plants in Moscow Gubernia

Moscow, 1914. Price 1.00 ruble.

Published: Prosveshcheniye No. 5, May 1914. Printed from the Prosveshcheniye text. Signed: I. V..
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 331.2-334.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

The recently published new statistical pamphlet by Mr. Kozminykh-Lanin examines the question of overtime, which is of exceptional importance for the Russian workers.

Let us note that the statistical data given by Kozminykh Lanin relate to the year of 1908 only and apply exclusively to workers of Moscow Gubernia. Moreover, the 1908 figures must now be largely out of date, especially in view of the fact that 1908 was a year of industrial stagnation, and that it was followed by a year of industrial upswing, and a parallel and intensified demand for manpower. This,   for its part, was bound to lead to greater use of overtime in a number of industries.

The data given by Kozminykh-Lanin (a factory inspector in Moscow Gubernia) are undoubtedly of a semi-official character, they were collected through an inquiry among the employers, so that they should be taken with a grain of salt but must none the less be given the most serious attention. For one thing, the literature on the question is so scarce in Russia that every work must be made use of, quite apart from the fact that even these semi-official statistics yield a great deal that is highly interesting.

Mr. Kozminykh-Lanin carried out his inquiry among a total of 112,380 workers in 152 enterprises of Moscow Gubernia, mainly large-scale ones, with the textile industry being prevalent in the inquiry.

The figures given in the pamphlet indicate that overtime is not widely practised in the textile industry of the Moscow area. Thus, of the 59,000 workers engaged in the processing of cotton, covered by the inquiry, only 767 did overtime on holidays. Considerably greater numbers did overtime on weekdays (1,717), but even there the figure fluctuates between 1 and 2 per cent of the total. That is understandable, because technical requirements in the textile industry are such that at every given moment there must be a definite number of hands specified more or less in advance; and the main thing is that 1908 was less than favourable for the textile industry. Employers were frequently concerned in cutting back production, rather than in increasing the productivity of their enterprises through overtime.

The metalworking industry, another leading branch, presents a different picture. There overtime is widely practised, sometimes involving up to 20 per cent of the total number of workers.

As for the duration of overtime, according to Kozminykh-Lanin’s data, it generally fluctuates both for metalworkers and textile workers between 25 and 35 hours per worker doing overtime (counting work on both weekdays and holidays). This is a very high figure. The 30 hours of free time on average taken up by overtime earning naturally add up entirely to so much harm done to the worker’s cultural and mental development.

Let us see what workers are paid for the plunder of their labour in terms of brains, muscles and nerves.... Mr. Kozminykh-Lanin gives a very detailed calculation of the per-hour remuneration of workers for overtime in the several branches. We find that this work earns textile workers an average of only 15-16 kopeks an hour, rarely more than that. These rates are slightly increased towards April and September, and then decline again to 13 kopeks in December-February. The earnings are especially small at wool-weaving mills; thus, the average per-hour wage for March came to only 6.75 kopeks for Sunday and holiday work. If those are overtime rates, how low the ordinary ones must be!

The tables show that the labour of metalworkers is not much better paid than that of textile workers; the average per-hour overtime earnings fluctuate from 13 to 20 kopeks. In general, the level and change of rates for the overtime work of Moscow metalworkers clearly show that the working conditions there are highly unfavourable even in comparison with, say, St. Petersburg.

For all their overtime, Moscow workers are paid next to nothing.

Thus, average monthly earnings for overtime were:

Textile workers (kopeks)
Sundays and holidays . . {{ compulsory 408
optional 221
Weekdays . . . . . . . . {{ compulsory 353
optional 235
Sundays and holidays . . {{ compulsory 337
optional 184
Weekdays . . . . . . . . {{ compulsory 325
optional 231

Let us emphasise in conclusion that Mr. Kozminykh-Lanin’s inquiry dealt little, if at all, with the main sphere of overtime—small-scale industry (only 1.45 per cent of the workers covered by the inquiry were engaged in under takings employing less than 100 persons). Yet, we feel   sure that the examination of working conditions in small-scale industry would have produced some astounding results.


{1} The statistical studies by I. M. Kozminykh-Lanin repeatedly drew Lenin’s attention. In August 1912, Lenin wrote two reviews on his Working Day and Working Year in Moscow Gubernia, entitled “The Working Day in the Factories of Moscow Gubernia” and “The Working Day and Working Year in Moscow Gubernia”. The first was published in Pravda, the second in Nevskaya Zvezda in August 1912 (see present edition, Vol. 18, pp. 260–61, 262-69). Lenin used the author’s statistical data in his article “The Language of Figures”, published in September 1913 in the Moscow newspaper Nash Put (see present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 358–63). In the first of the above-mentioned reviews Lenin wrote that the statistician had prepared a special work on overtime at Moscow Gubernia factories, and the article given here is a review of this latter work, which was published in 1914. p. 331

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