The Labour Armies

Order No.7

By the Revolutionary War Council of the First Labour Army, March 3, 1920, No.7, Yekaterinburg

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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Deserters from the labour front are to be punished like deserters from the Red Army.


Actions considered as constituting desertion are:

  1. failure to appear for labour mobilisation;
  2. failure to appear for labour service;
  3. evading labour registration;
  4. absence from work without valid reason;
  5. wilfully leaving work;
  6. evading work by assuming fictitious duties, official missions, etc.;
  7. evading work by simulating illness;
  8. intentional non-fulfilment of norms.


Anyone proved to have facilitated desertion is to be considered a harbourer. Anyone who fails to inform on a deserter in good time is to be considered a conniver. Anyone who gets others to desert, either by persuasion or by threats, is to be considered an instigator.


The fight against evasion of labour mobilisation and labour service and wilful absence from work is the responsibility of the Commission for Combating Desertion, which will be guided by all the orders, provisions and instructions previously issued regarding desertion from the Red Army, and, depending on the nature of the crime, will bring deserters’ cases before the Revolutionary Tribunal, or before people’s or comrades’ disciplinary courts.


For unpunctual arrival at or departure from work, and for absence from work for not more than two days, if the persons concerned do then present themselves voluntarily for work, those guilty are to be called to account forthwith before a comrades’ disciplinary court or before the administration of the enterprise, if this has been granted disciplinary powers.


All organs carrying out registration and allocation of mobilised labour power, and the individuals in charge of works and immediately responsible for their accomplishment, must at once inform the Commission on Desertion of all cases of desertion from work or from assembly points by particular workers, stating where the deserter lives and works.


For failure to take measures against desertion, for carelessness in organising work, for uneconomic use of mobilised labour power and assigning labour tasks which are obviously impracticable, the guilty officials are to be charged and brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal.


In order to prevent desertion and to expose deserters and shirkers, the Commission on Desertion is granted power:

  1. to investigate the work being done by enterprises and units,;
  2. to call to account persons whose inactivity has promoted the development of desertion,;
  3. to take measures to correct the shortcomings discovered, through the appropriate institutions.


For combating evasion of work in the cases mentioned in paragraph 5, the following disciplinary penalties are laid down:

  1. reprimand,;
  2. demotion, with reduced pay,;
  3. transfer to penal status, or assignment to a penal labour unit for a period not exceeding one month.


Transfer to penal status signifies:

  1. increase in the amount and time of work to be done, without any payment for extra time;;
  2. assignment to unpleasant and heavy work;
  3. detention in special premises, under guard;
  4. establishment of a strict military regime;
  5. as a means of influencing the individual, arrest in accordance with the disciplinary regulations.

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Last updated on: 27.12.2006