Work people

Work people (robitni liudy; Russian: rabochie liudi). A term first applied in the early 18th century to state peasants and posad people mobilized by the tsarist state to construct canals and wharves. Later, until the mid-19th century, it denoted possessional peasants and, particularly from the 1760s on, freely hired factory and water-transportation workers. The ‘work people’ were mercilessly exploited and abused as a labor force in areas where there were few serfs, particularly in the state-owned salt factories of Tor (present-day Sloviansk) and Bakhmut in the Donets Basin.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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