Thursday, October 13, 2016

‘Hunger Strikes are the Last Weapon of the Proletariat,’ Russian Workers Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 13 – The number of labor actions in Russia’s regions doubled from the second quarter to the third quarter of this year to a level 25 percent more than a year ago. Fewer than 10 percent of the country’s company towns are getting any federal aid. Wage arrears are rising, and some workers have been driven to stage hunger strikes.

           In the words of one, “hunger strikes are the last weapon of the proletariat,” and in the words of another who put these on a sign he carried to one such action, “a hungry worker is a revolutionary”  (, and

            According to the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, there were 544 strikes and other labor actions and they occurred in every one of the federal districts of the country. Most were in ethnic Russian areas, and most were about the failure of managers and owners to pay the back wages the workers were owed.

            What is perhaps most important given that these acts of worker desperation have attracted little attention in the central media is that they did not occur in the capitals or in major cities but in  mid-sized cities and especially the company towns or “monogorods” that have been especially hard hit by the economic crisis. 

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