Abstract: Labor Conflicts in Russian Industries at the End of the Nineteenth and Beginning of the Twentieth Century: Entrepreneurs' Strategies

Irina V. Shilnikova


One of the specific features of labor relations in Russian industries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century was the absence of trade unions. They appeared only after the revolution of 1905, but did not play a significant role. At the same time, the influence of leftist parties' agitators, who urged the workers to use the most radical forms of struggle, was growing. Under these conditions, labor conflicts at enterprises occurred quite often. Some conflicts were ''extinguished'' in their beginning, as a result of a compromise between workers and entrepreneurs. Other conflicts evolved in an active way and ended after the intervention of the government troops and police. The result of labor conflict depended on the decisions and behavior of the entrepreneur. This paper answers the following questions: What actions were used by owners of enterprises in the course of conflicts that had already started? Which of these actions were most efficient? To what extent did the actions of entrepreneurs depend on the particular industry and region? What methods were used by entrepreneurs for the prevention of conflicts? The research is based on: 1) the author's database on ''Labor conflicts in the Russian Empire (1895-1904),'' which includes about 8,000 records (one record for each conflict) about different types of conflicts and entrepreneurs' strategies for dealing with them; and 2) sources from archival records of Russian enterprises to analyze entrepreneurs' strategies using a case studies approach.