Organized recruitment of workers

Organized recruitment of workers (organizovannyi nabor rabochikh or orgnabor). A system of recruiting unskilled labor for industry, construction, transportation, and farming in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. It was introduced by the decree On Migration of 30 June 1931 as a way of providing rapidly developing industry with labor from the collective farms. Industrial enterprises were authorized to conclude manpower contracts with collective farms. For releasing their members for industrial employment collective farms received machines and special allocations of supplies from the state. The ‘voluntary’ recruits were rewarded with privileges for themselves and their families. Lacking any planning and central control, the system was inefficient and open to abuse. In 1938 special recruitment planning groups were set up in the Union, and republican state planning committees and commissions for organized recruitment were formed in the Union and republican economic councils to supervise the system. In 1953 the system was reorganized, and thereafter it was run by a hierarchy of chief administration for organized recruitment of labor attached to the Union and republican councils of ministers. The purpose of the system changed radically: instead of drafting labor from the farms into the urban centers, it resettled surplus urban labor from the western part of the USSR to the underdeveloped regions of the northern and eastern frontier. In 1957 the agencies running the system were renamed chief administrations for the resettlement and organized recruitment of labor. Although by law recruitment was to be voluntary, pressure and force were applied widely.

In the period immediately following the Second World War some 50,000 workers annually were transferred to the Donbas and Dnieper Industrial Region, and up to 10,000 families, mostly from Western Ukraine, were relocated in Southern Ukraine under the organized recruitment system. In 1946–62 over 2.2 million workers were recruited in Ukraine, and 812,000 were placed in jobs outside their homeland. Of the 277,000 families resettled on collective farms and state farms, 88,000 were sent outside Ukraine. Massive propaganda for Ukrainian resettlement in the Far East was unsuccessful. By the mid-1960s the importance of the system in providing industrial labor had diminished greatly. It continued to supply seasonal labor, mostly to construction projects. In 1976–80 it placed only 100,000 workers in full-time jobs and 150,000 in seasonal jobs. Efforts to plan labor recruitment proved unsuccessful.

Conquest, R. (ed). Industrial Workers in the USSR (London 1967)

Borys Levytsky, Bohdan Krawchenko

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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