The Strike Movement and Wages
Everyone knows that the famous strike movement of the Russian workers in 1905 achieved very great successes not only in the political, but in the economic sphere as well. The data furnished by the reports of factory inspectors now enable us to form a fairly accurate idea of the magnitude of those successes.
According to those data, the average earnings of a factory worker were:
|Average for five years||206||Average for five years||238|
This shows that the year 1905 was a turning-point. For it was after 1905 that wages rose abruptly from 205 to 231 rubles a year, i.e., by 26 rubles, or more than 10 per cent.
With regard to 1905, which shows a drop of 8 rubies in wages compared with 1904, the following must be borne in mind: firstly, 1905 was a year of economic depression, i.e., a slump in industry; secondly, according to data of the Ministry of Trade, the workers that year lost, through not receiving wages during strikes, 17,500,000 rubles, or over 10 rubles per worker on the average.
Thus, we may assume that real wages in 1905 were 215 rubles a year, but out of these 215 rubles the workers contributed 10 rubles each to the strike movement, which in 1905 was distinguished by remarkable persistence and breadth, unprecedented anywhere else in the world.
The result is that as we now examine the data for a whole decade, 1901–10, we clearly see a striking difference between the pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary epoch.
Until 1905 the Russian factory worker’s wages averaged 206 rubles. After 1905, they averaged 238 rubles, i.e., 32 rubles more per year—an increase of 15.5 per cent.
Within one year wages experienced such an upward leap that no subsequent efforts by the capitalists (who, it will be recalled, took away all the gains of 1905 one by one) were able to reduce the worker to his former low standard of living. The year 1905 improved the worker’s living standard to a degree that normally is attained during several decades.
Through the strikes in 1905 the workers lost, according to official statistics, 17,500,000 rubles by not being paid wages during the strikes. According to the same source, the capitalists’ drop in output in 1905 was 127,300,000 rubles.
The rise in wages after 1905, however, brought the workers an average gain of 32 rubles per worker in five years (1906–1910), i.e., a total of 57,600,000 rubles a year, or 286 million rubles in flue years, considering the number of workers to be 1,800,000.
This refers to A Summary of Factory Inspectors’ Reports for 1910, St. Petersburg, 1911. p. XXXVII.
Published: Pravda No. 86, August 9, 1912. Published according to the Pravda text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, , Moscow, Volume 18, pages 258-259.