From New International, Vol.3 No.1, February 1936, p.32.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The Russian International Bulletin of the ICL (Paris, Jan. 1936) publishes the following comment:
In 1927 with the aim of combatting the Opposition Stalin launched the slogan of the 7-hour day, in order to show that the interests of the working class were as close to his heart as to the Left Opposition’s.
The 7-hour day was subsequently introduced legislatively. But nobody took it seriously, neither the workers nor Stalin himself. Every factory manager now has at his disposal hundreds of thousands of “supplementary” hours which he distributes among the worker of his factory and thus, under cover of supplementary hours, the working day is everywhere prolonged.
The Stakhanovist movement, based upon piece-work, will naturally drive the worker to a further prolongation of the working day (parallel to physical and nervous over-tension). The defects in the organization of production themselves simply “oblige” those workers who want to increase their production to prolong their working day; it is necessary to get in advance all that is needed, to prepare the tools, to lubricate and clean the machines, etc.
In Pravda of December 15, 1935, Boussygin relates how he was allowed to work two hours overtime (by the way, this occurred during Boussyguin’s vacation, which he couldn’t make use of). The Soviet papers try to remain silent about these facts, but they pierce through nevertheless, especially in various feuilletons. “It is night ... There are still two hours before the whistle. The metal workers of the Petrovsky factory has already risen. In the shop he meets his comrade, the worker Lagutkin. They prepare carefully for their shift ...”, etc. (Pravda, Oct. 31, 1935.) And these – according to Pravda – are only Stakhanovists of “the future”! In the Donetz Basin railroads, the machinists work from 250 to 290 hours a month, which makes a working day of from 10 to 11 hours (Pravda, Nov. 18, 1935). The Mosolpoligraph printing plant: during the first half of 1935, the workers had virtually no days of rest; in the second half, the same situation. The increase in the hours of work takes place in the form of “supplementary” working hours (Trud, Sept. 29, 1935). In the same number: “Certain workers work in two successive crews, without leaving the printing plant.” This means that they work 14 and perhaps more hours per day. In the 7th construction sector of the Kurx railroad the 10-hour working day was introduced by order of the chief.” Upon the feeble protests of the labor inspector, the prosecutor made an indifferent gesture. It isn’t worth protesting about: “Nothing to be done about it.” (Trud, Sept. 18, 1935.) In Komsomolskaya Pravda (Aug. 23, 1935), an apprentice complains that he is forced to work from 12 to 14 hours a day instead of from 6 to 7. “Arrived forty minutes ahead of the crew and Marussia still earlier,” reports the Stakhanovist Slavnikova Pravda, Nov. 15, 1935). During the conference of the combine-drivers, it appeared that their working day lasts about 16 hours.
The lower the technical level of a given production, the less the rise in labor productivity is obtained by the machine, by rationalization, and by the division of labor – the more it is accomplished by means of an over-tension of labor power and by the increase of the working day.
Thus, in a primitive work – the hand threshing of flax – the Stakhanovist Vorobiova produced 32 kilograms instead of the usual norm of from 6 to 8 kilograms. In reply to the question as to how she did it: “What can I tell you? – I came out before dawn, I worked hard – and there are the 32 kilograms.” (Pravda, Nov. 4, 1935.) This holds true above all for the piatisotnitsi, that is, those noted collective farmers who have obtained 500 quintals of beets per acre (the average yield in the USSR was 82 quintals in 1934 and 135 in 1935. In France, for example, it is 300). In dozens of feuilletons, their hard labor work is described: “I’m not telling a lie,” relates one of them, “I spilled thousands of buckets of water on our beets, and we destroyed the butterflies”, “every day, every night, the girls watched the plantations for butterflies. They were caught by hand and crushed – Marin, blackened by sunburn and thin from sleepless nights, didn’t leave the plantations for whole nights and days.” (Komsomolskaya Pravda, Nov. 5, 1935.)
We have brought forward these facts, although there is no claim that they constitute any statistics on the working day in Soviet Russia. But these examples show that everywhere the 7 and 8-hour day is being infringed upon. The Stakhanovist movement threatens to liquidate it for good.
* * *
(Reprinted from the ILP New Leader)
The North London ILP Federation held a meeting on the war issue in the Shoreditch Town Hall This is a frequent meeting place of the Communist Party, and probably a fourth of the audience were Communist supporters.
At the end of the meeting a young man rose in the body of the hall.
“I am a member of the Communist Party,” he said. The Communists applauded. “I read the Daily Worker (applause). I don’t make a practice of reading the New Leader (applause).
“But I saw in the Daily Worker that the ILP was taking a different line. I bought the New Leader to see what it was.”
There was anxious silence. The young man flung out his next sentence vigorously and rapidly.
“I became convinced that the ILP line is the correct revolutionary line.”
That was enough. Up jumped a local Communist leader and began to shout. This must not be heard. Others tried to drown the voice of the young man, but he went on calmly.
“There are many others in the Communist Party like me. I appeal to them to get to work in their cells to save the party from the disastrous policy of its leadership. We condemn the Labor party bureaucracy. We have a bureaucracy as great.”
The Communists could stand no more. They left the hall.
Last updated on 31.7.2006