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The Militant, 17 August 1946

Conditions in Soviet Union Worsen
for Factory Workers and Soldiers

Unpaid Men Live Like Slaves
Under Corrupt Stalinist Rule

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 33, 17 August 1946, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The purges are continuing in the Soviet Union. Dispatches from the USSR, based on articles in the Soviet press, confirm not only this, but also:

  1. The masses’ living conditions are more unbearable than ever, while the bureaucrats occupy an even more privileged position than before the war.
  2. The top Stalin bureaucracy is trying to shift off of itself and onto subordinate bureaucrats the responsibility for the conditions which have aroused the discontent of the masses.

For the first time, Pravda prints reports criticizing Stakhanovism – the use of “storm” or “shock” groups who speed up production and receive special bonuses for setting high production norms.

“The storm tactics so widely practiced in the Don Basin mines lead to an increase in accidents, disorder in the mines and weakening of labor discipline,” wrote one Pravda reporter about mines which fell below their quota in June.

The local bureaucrat gets the axe for something like this – but it was the top bureaucracy in the Kremlin which introduced, expended and widely praised the use of Stakhanovism.

Hold Back Wages

Probably the most striking reports are those dealing with the withholding of wages, which has apparently become a widespread abuse. A letter in the August 6 Trud charged that the bureaucrats at the head of various industries in the Sverdlovsk and Tugulym regions were holding back more than 3,719,000 rubles due to workers, and that former officials of the Tugulym industrial combination were keeping 43,854 rubles owed to workers.

The letter, written by the manager of the state bank’s regional branch in Sverdlovsk, asserts that in the case of Tugulym, the officials were using wages to line their own pockets.

The next day the same paper printed a letter from a worker in the Don Basin coal energy trust, reporting that “none of the workers remember when they got their wages on time. We have no pay books.” Living conditions there are “bad,” people “sleep in corridors” and quarters are “dirty and uncomfortable.” Furthermore, the head of the local “trade union” is “unconcerned about improving our working and living conditions.”

Trud’s own correspondent in the Don Basin confirms the above charges, adding that many workers “have not been credited with wages for several months in succession” and that crews erecting Diesel installations in the Rostov region “have not been paid for at least six months.” He says that local “trade union” leaders know of “these infamous doings” and pass “lengthy decisions” about them but “there the matter ends.”

Cheat the Workers

Another letter from a miner in the same issue complains that the dining room manager of the Dzerzhinsky mine administration in the Voroshilov region “shamelessly cheats the workers” and criticizes the administration for forgetting “the workers’ elementary daily needs.”

Trud editorially thunders against “the soulless, formal bureaucratic attitude to complaints and requests.”

On the same day Pravda tells the story of four veterans “shamelessly” deprived of their old apartments in Kiev, which were occupied illegally for 20 months by relatives of officials. “Comrade Chebotaryev, chairman of the city Soviet, has played no small role in this lawlessness,” says the Pravda correspondent.

On August 9 Trud continued with reports and warnings about conditions in the Don Basin mines. Five workers in one mine reported:

Shameful Conditions

“From January until June we received no wages. In January, February and March we did not get rations on our meat, fish, sugar and fat ration cards and now we are told it is too late to get them. During the last few months we have not been getting our full rations either.

“For the past five or six months we have not been getting our coal. Our mine trade union committee is inactive. When some workers started demanding their wages, Mustchenko, the director, fired them.”

Trud’s special correspondent corroborated these reports, and found many other violations of Soviet legislation. Even Stakhanovite miners who had overfulfilled their quotas were not getting the second hot dish due at their meals and “more than half of the rations designated for supplementary feeding remains in the offices of the mines.”

The same correspondent charged that the Central Committee of the Coal Mining Industry and its district committee in Shakhty were playing “a very unenviable role” and that the “district commissioner did not take any real measure to liquidate the shameful state of affairs and prosecute the guilty ones.”

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Last updated on 26 June 2021