Workday (trudoden’). A device outside the regular wage system for determining compensation to collective-farm workers for their labor. It was introduced in the USSR in 1930–1 during the forced collectivization of agriculture. Farm jobs were divided into seven to nine categories, based on difficulty or importance. An average job was worth one workday, a job of the first category as little as half a workday, and a job of the ninth category (the operation of heavy machinery) as much as four and a half workdays. In addition workers were rewarded with extra workdays for especially good work or penalized with workday deductions for poor performance. At the end of each year the collective-farm administration divided the farm's profits (in kind and cash) among its members according to the number of workdays accumulated by each worker. Because the farm's income depended largely on the state-set quota of produce that it had to sell the state at artificially low prices, the farm workers were exploited severely in the drive to finance rapid industrialization. In 1932 the average workday for the USSR was worth only 0.42 rubles, in 1937, 0.85 rubles, and in 1952, 1.4 rubles. Farm profits and the value of a workday for each farm were unpredictable from year to year; hence, there was little incentive to work.
In the second half of the 1950s monetary payments replaced payments in kind in the agricultural system, a change that brought about a rising demand for consumer goods among farm workers. In 1986 the CC CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers finally decided to abolish the workday and to introduce a guaranteed wage for collective-farm workers.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine