The Soviet State: A Study of Bolshevik Rule

By Bertram W. Maxwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
LABOR LEGISLATION

It is not the purpose of this treatise to discuss the conditions of labor in the Soviet Union in detail, yet for the sake of coherence it is perhaps necessary to indicate in general terms the conditions of free labor, since of late many contradictory reports have been current on this important subject. In the chaotic days following the Bolshevik Revolution, in the stress and strain of counter-revolution and civil war, labor was called upon to make many sacrifices. The commissar of labor of the R. S. F. S. R. speaking before the fifth Congress of Labor Unions in September 1922, admitted that in those dangerous and tragic days the assignment of work was conducted in arbitrary fashion; the workers' preferences were not consulted. With the coming of more normal times and the inauguration of the Nep, the conditions of labor improved. In the R. S. F. S. R. a Labor Code was adopted in November 1922. The Union, despite the power conferred upon it, has not up to the time of this writing availed itself of this right. Each constituent republic has its own labor code which is, however, modeled after the Code of the R. S. F. S. R. For all practical purposes then the Code of the Russian Republic is also the Code of the Union. In fact, it was made so by a resolution of the Union Central Executive Committee on July 13, 1933. To be sure, by decisions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Central Union of Professional Unions, new projects of labor legislation are being considered.

A discussion of the provisions of the Bolshevik Labor Code is better understood if one keeps in mind that the standard of living of the Russian worker was the lowest in Europe. The average worker had no decent place to live; in the small urban centers the workers lived in mud hovels, and in the large cities, even in the two capitals, many workers could not afford to rent living space,

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