V. I. Lenin

Draft Resolution

On “The Tasks of the Trade Unions,

And The Methods of Their Accomplishment”[1]

Written: Early November 1920
First Published: The Fourth (Russian) edition of the Collected Works; Published according to the manuscript pp. 374-75.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 31, pages 374-375
Translated: Julius Katzer
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

In accordance with the decisions of the Ninth Congress of the Communist Party of Russia, the Conference once again draws the attention of the trade unions to the necessity of these decisions being scrupulously fulfilled, and points out in particular that the imperative need of a single economic plan establishing the order of priority of objectives in the general scheme of economic construction is indisputable. At the same time, as was recognised by the Party Conference of September 1920, a gradual but steady transition must be effected from urgency procedures to a more even distribution of forces, particularly in the secondment of the individual unions’ best organisers to the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions with a view to consolidating that body as a whole, improving the functioning of its apparatus, achieving greater system in the work of all trade unions, and thereby strengthening the entire trade union movement.

This measure should be applied in particular to the Central Committee of the General Transport Workers’ Union (Tsektran ); an end must be put to its disproportionate growth as compared with the other unions, and the best elements thus released should extend to the entire trade union movement those methods of the broader application of democracy, the promotion of initiative, participation in the management of industry, the development of emulation, and so forth, which have yielded the best practical results.

In conformity with the decisions of the Ninth Congress of the Communist Party of Russia, and recognising as absolutely indispensable the development, extension and consolidation of trade union participation in production management, the Conference instructs the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions to sum up immediately the practical experience gained in this respect by the leading unions and enterprises, and to draw up detailed instructions, which will help all trade unions make use of that practical experience and will enjoin them to utilise the latter in a more energetic and systematic fashion.

This refers especially to the utilisation of specialists.


[1] This document formed the basis of the resolution on the tasks of the trade union movement, which was passed by the R.C.P.(B.) group of the Fifth All-Russia Conference of Trade Unions on November 8, 1920, and published in Pravda on November 13. 200 delegates supported the resolution, with 12 delegates abstaining. At the Conference, which took place in Moscow between November 2 and 6, the Party raised the question of reorganising the work of the trade unions in keeping with the tasks of peaceful socialist construction, extending democracy and abandoning purely administrative methods. Trotsky came out against the proposed reorganisation. At a sitting of the Communist group on November 3, he spoke “fine words”, as Lenin said, about “shaking up” the trade unions, “tightening the screws” and immediate “governmentalisation of trade unions”. Trotsky’s speech, which sparked off a discussion in the Party, was opposed by a slight majority of Communist delegates. Disagreement with Trotsky over trade unions concerned the methods over the role of unions in a workers state where socialism was not yet constructed and which was in a state of civil war. On November 8 Lenin read his theses at a plenary meeting of the Central Committee, in which he opposed Trotsky’s views. Trotsky’s theses won 7 votes, and Lenin's, 8 votes.

Lenin's theses formed the basis of his draft resolution on "The Tasks of the Trade Unions, end the Methods of Their Accomplish-ment ", which was passed by 10 votes against 4, with I abstention.