861.5041/61: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Thurston) to the Secretary of State

760. A ukase59 of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet is published in today’s newspapers giving effect to the recommendations of the labor unions reported in the Embassy’s 755, June 26, 1 p.m.60

[Page 203]

The ukase which became operative today provides for the 8-hour day and 7-day week, Sunday to be the day of rest. Unnecessary change of employment is strictly forbidden and absence without leave penalized not by dismissal as heretofore but by corrective labor at the place of employment and by fines up to 25 percent of wages for 6 months.

A resolution of the Soviet of People’s Commissars of the U. S. S. R. provides that present wages are maintained while production norms are raised and piecework rates lowered in proportion to the increased length of the working day.

The pronouncement of the labor unions yesterday stressed the need to strengthen the defenses of the country, especially the Red army and navy and air forces and stated that more metal, coal, oil, planes, tanks, guns, shells, locomotives, railway cars, machine tools and automobiles are required. An editorial in Krasnaya Zvezda yesterday stated that while the Soviet Union now enjoys the blessings of peace no predominance by the capitalistic countries should be permitted and added “the backward are being defeated but we do not want to be defeated.” The same sentiment was expressed by the Secretary61 of the All Union Central Soviet of Labor Unions in a speech delivered June 25th and published in today’s Pravda in these words: “To be less prepared means to be backward and weak, and as is well known the backward and weak are being beaten.”

Although more than 2 pages of Pravda and 1½ pages of Izvestiya yesterday and about 2 pages of Pravda today are devoted to resolutions adopted by meetings throughout the country of factory workers, railway men, office workers, miners, etc., approving the recommendations of the labor unions, a Russian-speaking informant has advised me that during a tour of numerous shops yesterday, which were as usual congested, he overheard much outspoken hostile criticism.

  1. Dated June 26.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Nikolay Mikhailovich Shvernik. Speech before the IX Plenum of the All-Union Central Soviet (Council) of Labor Unions.