Wage Rate System

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wage Rate System


(tarifnaia sistema), a major element in the overall system of labor remuneration in the USSR; it is used for projecting wage expenditures by sector of the economy, within particular sectors and enterprises, and by region, as well as for setting up incentive wage systems.

For industrial workers, the system makes use of basic wage rates, wage rate scales, and wage rates and skills manuals. For management and engineering and technical personnel, the wage rate system is based on fixed salaries for given positions and on a position classification manual. The wage rate system also includes various wage coefficients and wage increments for work in the North. Basic wage rates and employees’ fixed salaries are set by the Soviet government by agreement with the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions.

Basic wage rates, which determine a worker’s pay per hour or per day, are used by the Soviet government for wage differentiation. Workers’ basic wage rates in the coal, petroleum, metallurgical, logging, and machine-building industries are higher than in other sectors, as prescribed by the principle of distribution according to labor and the policy of preferential incentives for workers in the decisive sectors of the economy. In setting wage rates, allowance is made for the working conditions and degree of effort required in any given sector.

Several factors are taken into account in setting differential basic wage rates—namely, the workers’ qualifications, working conditions, and form of payment. The base pay for the simplest type of work constitutes the first category of the pay scale; the higher a worker’s qualifications, the higher the category and rate of pay. In addition, pay rates vary with working conditions —regular rates being paid for normal working conditions, higher rates for intensive or heavy work or for hazardous working conditions, and still higher rates for extremely heavy work or especially hazardous conditions. As a rule, different wage rates are set for pieceworkers and timeworkers. Piecework rates are somewhat higher because of the higher intensity of labor as compared to timework. In some sectors—for example, in the coal, metallurgical, construction, and motor transport industries—the rates for piecework and timework are the same.

The wage rate scale is used to determine the proper relation between workers’ pay and the skills required for a job. The scale consists of a certain number of categories and of the corresponding intercategory coefficients. The wage category of a given worker or job is an index of the worker’s skill or of the level of skills required to perform the job. Each category has its own coefficient. The wage coefficient is a measure of the difference in pay between the given category and the first, or lowest, category. In constructing wage rate scales and setting intercategory wage coefficients, the basic considerations are, first, such factors as the variety and complexity of the job and the workers’ qualifications and, second, the need for incentives to encourage workers to upgrade their skills.

As a result of the new wage rates adopted between 1973 and 1975, most enterprises have wage rate scales consisting of six categories, with a ratio of 1 to 1.7 or of 1 to 1.6 between the lowest and highest categories.

The wage rates and skills manual lists the types of jobs in a given sector, indicating their complexity, the level of responsibility, and the degree of precision required. The manual describes in detail all standardized production operations; it also indicates the production skills, knowledge, and techniques a worker must have to meet job requirements, including such skills as the ability to organize one’s work site. The manual is designed to be used for assigning workers to the appropriate categories and determining the rate for each job—that is, to match workers and types of jobs with the various categories in the wage rate scale in accordance with the skills required in each case. Each section of the manual covers a line of production or type of work—for example, steel smelting, machining, or fitting operations. The number of categories established for each occupation depends on the complexity of the work involved. A worker may be assigned to a higher category by the administration of an enterprise with the agreement of the factory trade union committee. Such assignment is based on the worker’s theoretical and practical competence, as verified by a board of experts at the shop or enterprise level.

Since 1968, the various sectors’ wage rates and skills manuals have been supplemented by a single industry-wide manual covering all occupations. The use of this manual is obligatory in all sectors of Soviet industry.

Regional wage coefficients are used for the interregional regulation of the wages of industrial workers, engineering and technical personnel, and other employees. These coefficients are set by the Soviet government in accordance with the location of any given enterprise or institution.


Gur’ianov, S. Kh., and L. A. Kostin. Trud i zarabotnaia plata na predprüatii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1973.
Trud i zarabotnaia plata v SSSR, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
A two-tier wage rate system for new hires was established, with entry level assemblers starting at $7.25 and progressing to the normal starting rate ($10.19) after 3 years.