Collectives and Shock Workers of Communist Labor

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Collectives and Shock Workers of Communist Labor

 

advanced participants in the mass movement of the working people of the USSR for a communist attitude toward labor, for creation of the material and technical base of communism, and for the molding of the man of communist society. The title of Collectives and Shock Workers of Communist Labor is conferred by trade union organizations on brigades, shops, sections, divisions, departments, enterprises, organizations, and individual employees that regularly achieve outstanding success in labor and studies, set an example of comradeship and collectivism in labor, and show a high level of consciousness in social affairs and personal behavior.

Initially, in the late 1950’s, the movement for collectives and shock workers of communist labor bore the character of a competition among small collectives and individual workers for the title of Brigades and Shock Workers of Communist Labor. Like all the preceding forms of socialist competition (for example, shock work and the Stakhanovite movement), the movement for a communist attitude toward labor poses the task of achieving maximum labor productivity. At the same time, it also has its distinguishing features. “The main feature of the competition for the title of Brigades and Shock Workers of Communist Labor,” noted the Greeting of the CPSU Central Committee to the All-Union Conference of Advanced Workers in the Competition of Brigades and Shock Workers of Communist Labor, “is the fact that it organically combines a struggle for the attainment of maximum labor productivity on the basis of the latest science and technology with a struggle for the upbringing of the new man—the master of his country—who constantly looks forward, dares, thinks, and creates. By bringing together labor, studies, and everyday life, this competition exerts an active influence on all aspects of man’s life and activities and is an important factor in the obliteration of substantive differences between mental and physical labor”(Pravda, May 28, 1960, p. 1).

The movement was a result of all the preceding development of Soviet society, the victory of socialism in the USSR, the advancement of the country’s productive forces, scientific and technical progress, the growth of the masses’ consciousness, and the rise in the people’s material and cultural living standard. The movement originated in the working class during the competition in honor of the Twenty-first Congress of the CPSU. It was initiated by a Komsomol and youth brigade (V. I. Stanilevich, foreman) in the roller shop of the Moscow-Sortirovochnaia depot. (The depot was the site of the first communist subbotnik [unpaid voluntary mass workday] in 1919.)

On Oct. 11, 1958, at a meeting of Communists and Komsomol members of the shop, and on Oct. 18, 1958, at a general meeting of the shop’s collective, it was decided to adopt socialist pledges of a new type that included overfulfillment of the industrial and financial plan as well as universal study and inculcation of communist consciousness. The competitors proclaimed as their motto: “Learn to work and live communist style.” The call for competition was echoed throughout the country. At the initiative of the young people of Leningrad, Moscow, and the Donbas a competition was begun of workers who did not belong to production brigades for the title of Shock Worker of Communist Labor. In the spring of 1959, broad support greeted the initiative of V. I. Gaganova, a spinners’ brigade leader at the Vyshnii Volochek Cotton Combine, who on October 13, 1958, at her own request, moved from an advanced brigade to a lagging one in order to raise it to the status of an advanced brigade, although doing so involved a wage cut for her. In late 1958, at the initiative of the collective of the October Revolution Baku Railroad Car Plant, a competition began for the title of Enterprise of Communist Labor. From May 27 to 30, 1960, the All-Union Conference of Advanced Workers in the Competition of Brigades and Shock Workers of Communist Labor was held in Moscow. After the Twenty-second Congress adopted the new Program of the CPSU (October 1961), the people involved in the movement for a communist attitude toward labor based their moral and ethical obligations on the moral code for the builders of communism that was outlined by the Program of the CPSU. The Second All-Union Conference of Advanced Workers in the Competition for a Communist Attitude Toward Labor, which summarized the experience of the competitors, was held Apr. 25–27, 1963.

The participants in the competition seek to fulfill, ahead of schedule, state plans and assignments for raising labor productivity in industrial and agricultural production, in transport, in construction, and in the service industries; to improve the quality of output; and to struggle for an intensification of and rise in the efficiency of socialist production and for a rise in its profitability. At the initiative of shock workers, institutions such as public design bureaus, public economic-analysis groups, research laboratories and institutes, innovators’ councils, and communist labor schools are created. Shock workers set an example not only in work but also in personal behavior; they help each other in upgrading their qualifications, in political and general-educational studies, and in everyday life; organize group recreation and cultural amusements; participate in amateur performances and sports; and sponsor activities at kolkhozes and schools. They exert a social influence on those who violate labor discipline and norms of behavior away from work, and they are active in volunteer public order squads.

Shock workers and the collectives of brigades, shops, and enterprises of communist labor (construction projects, organizations, and sovkhozes) regularly report on their work; those who successfully fulfill their obligations in the competition retain the title.

According to data of Jan. 1, 1972, from the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, 42,462,000 people (50.3 percent of those working) were involved in the movement for a communist attitude toward labor through personal socialist pledges. The competition for the title of Collectives of Communist Labor encompassed 106,700 enterprises and organizations; 767,700 shops, sections, divisions, and departments; and more than 1,997 brigades in industry, construction, transport, agriculture, and trade. The title of Collective of Communist Labor has been won by 4,900 enterprises and organizations; more than 236,000 shops, sections, divisions, and departments; and 754,600 brigades. The title of Shock Worker of Communist Labor has been conferred on 19.6 million people (46.2 percent of the total number of those involved in the movement for a communist attitude toward labor). The movement for a communist attitude toward labor achieved special popularity during the nationwide competitions in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of V. I. Lenin (1970) and of the 50th anniversary of the formation of the USSR (1972) and in the struggle to overfulfill the ninth five-year plan (1971–75). (This struggle was a result of the political and labor upsurge generated by the decisions of the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU.)

The resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU On Further Improvement of the Organization of Socialist Competition rated highly the value of collectives and shock workers of communist labor in the fulfillment of the Soviet people’s political and economic tasks. The resolution says: “Party and economic bodies, trade unions, and Komsomol organizations are called upon to actively support the movement for a communist attitude toward labor, to enrich all forms of socialist competition with the experience of this movement, and to be more demanding in the awarding and confirmation of the titles of Collectives and Shock Workers of Communist Labor. The collectives and individual workers that are awarded these honored titles must set a real example in attaining high indexes in labor, in upgrading vocational skills and cultural and technical levels, and in observing the norms of communist morality”(Pravda, Sept. 5, 1971, p. 2).

In 1959 a movement of collectives and shock workers of socialist labor arose in a number of socialist countries (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, and the Mongolian People’s Republic). In Bulgaria the movement of brigades of socialist labor developed in 1961 into a competition for the title of Collectives and Shock Workers of Communist Labor.

REFERENCES

Brezhnev, L. I. Resheniia XXIV s”ezda KPSS—boevaia programma deiatel’nosti sovetskikh profsoiuzov: Rech’ na XVs”ezde profsoiuzov SSSR 20 marta 1972 g. Moscow, 1972.
Vsesoiuznoe soveshchanie peredovikov sorevnovaniia brigad i udarnikov kommunisticheskogo truda, 27–30 maia 1960 g. [Moscow, 1960.]
Grishin, V. V. Vsemerno razvivat’ sorevnovanie brigad i udarnikov kommunisticheskogo truda. Moscow, 1960.
Shelepin, A. N. Otchetnyi doklad Vsesoiuznogo Tsentral’nogo Soveta Professional’nykh Soiuzov XV s”ezdu profsoiuzov SSSR. [Moscow] 1972.
Gaganova, V. Ne radi korysti. [Moscow] 1959.
Kak eto bylo . . . [Depo Moskva-Sortirovochnaia]. Moscow, 1960.
Gershberg, S. R. Dvizhenie kollektivov i udarnikov kommunisticheskogo truda. Moscow, 1961.
Velikoe dvizhenie sovremennosti: Sb. statei. Moscow, 1964.
Uchim se da rabotim i zhiveem po komunisticheski. Sofia, 1962.

S. R. GERSHBERG

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.