Factory Committees

Factory Committees

 

(Russian acronyms, fabzavkomy and FZK), in Russia after February 1917, elective organs of blue- and white-collar workers in industrial enterprises and transportation. The factory committees existed side by side with the trade unions, with which they merged in 1918. Members were elected at general meetings of the blue- and white-collar workers of one or more enterprises. In contrast to the trade unions, the factory committees united workers regardless of the workers’ trade union affiliation or job category.

The factory committees provided reliable support for the Bolshevik party in the enterprises. The principal task of the committees was to bring about workers’ control over production and distribution. Without prior approval they introduced an eight-hour work-day and resolved problems of wages, piece wage rates, food supplies, hiring, and firing; they also assumed the functions of management if the owners attempted to close down an enterprise or to reduce production. Together with the trade unions, the committees dealt with problems in such areas as wage rates, collective agreements, and medical aid for workers. Many factory committees had commissions for handling disputes, for promoting culture and education, and for other purposes. With the aid of the Provisional Government, the bourgeoisie attempted to limit the sphere of the committees’ activity. Toward this end, several laws and decrees were promulgated, but the factory committes ignored the legislation.

During the transition from the bourgeois democratic revolution to the socialist revolution, the factory committees under the direction of the Bolsheviks acted as a militant revolutionary organization of the working class in the struggle for Soviet power and for the dictatorship of the proletariat. From May 30 to June 3 (June 12–16), 1917, with Ia. M. Sverdlov presiding, the First All-City Conference of Factory Committees was held in Petrograd; on May 31 (June 13) V. I. Lenin, speaking at the conference proposed the Resolution on Measures to Cope with Economic Disorganization, which was adopted on June 3 (16). The conference elected a central council for the Petrograd factory committees. Consisting of 25 persons, 19 of whom were Bolsheviks, the Petrograd central council became in effect the directing body of the factory committees of all Russia.

From Aug. 7 to 12 (20–25), 1917, the Second Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees took place. It adopted the Bolshevik resolutions on the most important problems, and it ratified the charter of the factory committees. By autumn of 1917 the factory committees had central councils and city and regional associations in more than 50 industrial centers in Russia.

From Oct. 17 to 22 (Oct. 30-Nov. 4), 1917, the All-Russian Conference of Factory Committees was held in Petrograd. Approximately two-thirds of its delegates were Bolsheviks. The conference adopted the Resolution on the Current Moment and took the position that workers’ control over production and distribution would be possible only when all state power was transferred to the soviets. The conference also stated the necessity of merging the factory committees and the trade unions.

The factory committees and the trade unions helped to prepare and carry out the Great October Socialist Revolution. The central committees of the factory committees were represented on the revolutionary military committees throughout the country. The factory committees conducted revolutionary agitation and helped to form detachments of Red Guards. After the victory of the October Revolution, the committees and the trade unions struggled against economic disruption, famine, and sabotage by bureaucrats and helped implement the decrees of Soviet power concerning, for example, the nationalization of industry, banks, and transportation.

In accordance with a resolution of the First All-Russian Congress of Trade Unions (January 1918) and the Sixth Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees (February 1918), the factory committees merged with the trade unions.

SOURCES

Lenin, V. I. “Rezoliutsiia ob ekonomicheskikh merakh bor’by s razrukhoi.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 32.
Lenin, V. I. “Melkoburzhuaznaia pozitsiia v voprose o razrukhe.” Ibid.
Lenin, V. I. “Proekt polozheniia o rabochem kontrole.” Ibid., vol. 35.
Pervaia rabochaia konferentsiia fabrichno-zavodskikh komitetov. Petrograd, 1917.
Oktiabr’skaia revoliulsiia i fabzavkomy: Materialy po istorii fabrichno-zavodskikh komitetov, parts 1–3. Moscow, 1927–29.

REFERENCES

Pankratova, A. Fabzavkomy i profsoiuzy v revoliutsii 1917. Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
Egorova, A. G. Profsoiuzy i fabzavkomy v bor’be za pobedu Oktiabria (Mart-oktiabr’ 1917 g.). [Moscow] 1960.
Istoriia profsoiuzov SSSR. [Moscow] 1969.

V. P. BUTT

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