Morozov Strike of 1885

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Morozov Strike of 1885

 

a strike of textile workers at the Nikol’skoe Manufactory of Savva Morozov, Son, and Company.

The factory was located in the small settlement of Nikol’skoe in Vladimir Province near the Orekhovo station, today the city of Orekhovo-Zuevo in Moscow Oblast. Some 11,000 men worked there. The strike was brought on by the cruel exploitation of the weavers and their acutely worsened economic situation. Between 1882 and 1884 their pay was lowered five consecutive times; fines absorbed one-quarter to one-half of all earnings. A spontaneous revolt began to brew; just before the strike, the politically most advanced workers with experience in revolutionary struggle—P. A. Moiseenko, V. S. Volkov, and L. I. Ivanov—met twice in secret with the workers who were taking the initiative. At these meetings a plan of action was drawn up and demands were listed.

The strike began on January 7; about 8,000 men took part. The strikers began to sack the factory office, shops, and the living quarters of the director and the foreman, Shorin. The leaders of the strike succeeded in halting this destruction. At the insistence of the governor, who arrived with two battalions of troops, some insignificant concessions were offered to the workers on January 8. But the workers demanded restoration of the pay levels of 1881–82, maximum curtailment of fines, the return of a portion of fines already paid, and pay for the days they had been on strike. The listing of “demands made upon general agreement among the workers,” submitted to the governor on January 11 by Volkov at the head of the strikers’ procession, spoke of the need for state regulation of wages and for legislation to improve working conditions. Thus, demands were addressed not only to the factory owner but to the government as well.

On orders of the governor, a large group of strikers, Volkov among them, was arrested. The workers forcibly freed most of those arrested and demanded the release of Volkov. New clashes with the troops took place, and more than 600 men were arrested, including the strike leaders. Only on January 17 did the authorities succeed in suppressing the Morozov strike.

Those who actively participated in the strike were tried in two separate trials in February and May 1886. The second trial of 33 workers, led by Moiseenko and Volkov, took place in Vladimir and was widely publicized. The trial revealed the terrible conditions prevailing in the factories, and the jury acquitted the accused. Nonetheless, Moiseenko and Volkov were exiled to the northern provinces. The Morozov strike won the sympathy of the Russian democratic intelligentsia and was discussed in the foreign socialist press.

The Morozov strike stands out for its major scale and for the organization and determination of the workers. As V. I. Lenin remarked, “This huge strike made a very great impression on the government, which saw that when the workers act in unison they constitute a dangerous force, particularly when the mass of the workers, acting in concert, advance their demands directly” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 2, p. 23). The Morozov strike and the major strikes that followed it compelled the tsarist government to make concessions. On June 3, 1886, a law on fines was enacted which embodied some of the demands of the Morozov weavers. A monument to the participants in the Morozov strike, designed by the artists A. Shaposhnikov and V. Vzorov, was erected in Orekhovo-Zuev in November 1923.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. (See the index volume, part 1, p.rt I, p. 390.)
Morozovskaia stachka 1885–1935. Moscow, 1935.
Kabanov, P. I., and R. K. Erman. Morozovskaia stachka, 1885. Moscow, oscow, 1963.

A. S. TROFIMOV

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