Factory Committees

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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

References in periodicals archive ?
Radicalization took place in response to specific economic and political pressures: for example, when the factory management announced a long-term suspension of work for lack of fuel, and the factory committee found ample reserves in a neighboring district.
From March 22nd, 1945 the factory committee of the company is founded, with Ion Sandru as manager, and according to the "Regulation for organizing communal services enterprises in Caransebes" the town has, besides undertaking timber and furniture plant "Mundus--Borlova," other major production centers such as: barrels factory, wood and timber, brick factory, ice factory, bags factory, candle factory, typography, seven mills, headquarters of the Wealth Community--forestry enterprise.
However, any real revolution will develop its own forms and structures, and having too firm a notion of what socialism should be can be disastrous - as when the Bolsheviks undermined the factory committee movement in favour of a centralised social planning system which quickly ground to a halt.
Local plants are estimated to have lost between SR 500 million and SR 900 million ($133 million-$240 million) this month due to the outages,said Sameer Murad, head of the factory committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Emboldened by their success, strike leaders at the Mahalla plant have demanded the dissolution of their official factory committee, which they say does not represent them.
Michael Melancon's piece on the Petrograd factory committees between March and June 1917 debunks the myth of Bolshevik dominance of the factory committee movement.
Indeed, the emerging Russian pattern has an uncanny, deja vu, quality: the ad hoc strike committee, the permanent strike committee, the factory committee or the workers' council, the city workers' council or the soviet.
They consider such aspects as making sense of October 1917, stages of the revolution, whether it was a coup d'etat or social revolution (by Ernest Mandel), economic power and factory committees, and the legitimacy of the October Revolution.
In China, the official one child per family policy means that factory committees and village committees are authorized by Communist authorities to keep a detailed record of their female employees' menstrual cycles, and have the power to grant or deny a married couple permission to have children.
Shein's plan also strengthens the legal standing of factory committees, which in the current law have input in the running of enterprises.
Following the October Revolution, the primacy of local issues resulted in trade unions, factory committees, and soviets duplicating functions and jostling for power and influence.
1) To my mind--but I have by no means read all her work--the best piece she wrote was her very first book, Fabzavkomy Rossii v bor'be za sotsialisticheskuiu fabriku (Russian Factory Committees in the Campaign for a Socialist Factory), published in 1923 when she was still in her mid-20s.