1905 in St. Petersburg: Labor, Society, and Revolution

By Gerald D. Surh | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
The November Strike and the Eight-Hour Day

POPULAR RESPONSE TO THE MANIFESTO

During most of the last week of October, while work resumed and the eight-hour agitation took hold in factory districts, the Soviet did not meet. When it gathered again on October 29, it faced a heavy agenda, and the session sat until 2 A.M. In the course of the usual reports from individual factories, the eight-hour issue came to the fore, and a great number of deputies were apprised for the first time of just how far the movement had gone. Loud applause greeted the reports, and an irresistible urge arose to give the eight-hour campaign the force of a Soviet decree. In the course of the ensuing debate, one deputy pointed out that the Petersburg proletariat could not single- handedly win the eight-hour day, but added that his factory would implement any ruling favoring it. Deputies from the Putilov Works and two other metal plants supported the idea, but pleaded that conditions at their factories would make it impossible to put it into practice in the immediate future. The putilovtsy were still suffering the effects of the summer lockout, and they stood under the threat of another one in case of further disorders. According to witnesses, one lone voice from the back of the hall shouted, "We haven't finished with absolutism, and you begin a struggle with the capitalists." The voice went unheeded and unseconded as the meeting moved on to pass the following resolution:

The Soviet of Workers' Deputies hails those comrades who have introduced the eight-hour workday at their factories by revolutionary means.

The Soviet of Workers' Deputies thinks that the introduction of the

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