Establishment of the First Labor Army

Council of Workers’ and Peasants’ Defense, Decree on the First Revolutionary Labor Army. January 15, 1920


Original Source: Sobranie uzakonenii i rasporiazhenii raboche-krestian’skogo pravitel’stva, 1922, No. 3. Art. 15, pp. 11-12.

1. The Third Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army is to be utilized for labor purposes. This army is to be considered as a complete organization; its apparatus is neither to be disorganized nor split up, and it is to be known under the name of the First Revolutionary Labor Army.

2. The utilization of the Third Red Army for labor purposes is a temporary measure. The period is to be determined by a special regulation of the Council of Defense in accordance with the military situation as well as with the character of the work which the army will be able to carry out, and will especially depend on the practical productivity of the labor army.

3. The following are the principal tasks to which the forces and means of the Third Army are to be applied:


a) the procurement of food and forage in accordance with the regulation of the People’s Commissariat for Food, and the concentration of these in certain depots;
b) the procurement of wood and its delivery to factories and railroad stations;
c) the organization for this purpose of land transport as well as water transport;
d) the mobilization of necessary labor power for work on a national scale;
e) constructive work within the above limits as well as on a wider scale for the purpose of introducing, gradually, further works.


f) for repair of agricultural implements;
g) agricultural work, etc.

4. The first duty of the Labor Army is to secure provisions, not below the Red Army ration, for the local workers in those regions where the army is stationed; this is to be brought about by means of the army organs of supply in all those cases where the President of the Food Commissariat of the Labor Army Council (No. 7) finds that no other means of securing the necessary provisions for the above mentioned workers are to be had.

5. The utilization of the labor of the Third Army in a certain locality must take place in the locality in which the principal part of the army is stationed; this is to be determined exactly by the leading organs of the army (No. 6) with a subsequent confirmation by the Council of Defense.

6. The Revolutionary Council of the Labor Army is the organ in charge of work appointed, with the provision that the locality where the services of the Labor Army are to be applied is to be the same locality where the services of the Revolutionary Council of the Labor Army enjoys economic authority.

7. The Revolutionary Council of the Labor Army is to be composed of members of the Revolutionary War Council and of authorized representatives of the People’s Commissariat for Food, the Supreme Council for Public Economy, the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture, the People’s Commissariat for Communication, and the People’s Commissariat for Labor. A specially appointed representative of the Council of Defense will serve as chairman of the Council of the Labor Army.

8. Final decisions concerning internal military organizations and defined by regulations of internal military services and other military regulations are to be made by the Revolutionary War Council, which introduces into the internal life of the army all the necessary changes arising in consequence of the demands of the economic application of the army.

9. In every sphere of work (food, fuel, railroad, etc.) the final decision in the matter of organizing this work is to be left with the representative of the corresponding sphere of the Council of the Labor Army.

10. In the event of radical disagreement the case is to be transferred to the Council of Defense.

11. All the local institutions, Councils of National Economy, Food Committees, land departments, etc., are to carry out the special orders and instructions of the Council of the Labor Army through the latter’s corresponding members, either in its entirety or in that sphere of the work which is demanded by the application of the mass labor power.

12. All local institutions (Councils of National Economy, Food Committees, etc.) are to remain in their particular localities and carry out, through their ordinary apparatus, the work which falls to their share in the execution of the economic plans of the Council of the Labor Army; local institutions can be changed, either in structure or in their functions, on no other condition except with the consent of the corresponding departmental representatives who are members of the Council of the Labor Army, or in the case of radical changes with the consent of the corresponding central department.

13. In the case of work for which individual parts of the army can be utilized in a casual manner, as well as in the case of those parts of the army which are stationed outside the chief army, or which can be transferred beyond the limits of this locality, the Army Council must in each instance enter into an agreement with the permanent local institutions carrying out the corresponding work, and as far as that is practical and meet with no obstacles, the separate military detachments are to be transferred to their temporary economic disposal.

14. Skilled workers, insofar as they are not indispensable for the support of the life of the army itself, must be transferred by the army to the local factories and to the economic institutions generally under direction of the corresponding representatives of the Council of the Labor Army.

Note: Skilled labor can be sent to factories under no other condition except with the consent of those economic organs to which the factory in question is subject. Members of trade unions are liable to be withdrawn from local enterprises for the economic needs in connection with the problems of the army only with the consent of the local organs.

15. The Council of the Labor Army must, through its corresponding members, take all the necessary measures towards inducing the local institutions of a given department to supervise, in the localities, the army detachments and their institutions in the implementation of the latter’s share of work without infringing upon the respective by-laws, regulations, and instructions of the Soviet Republic.

Note: It is particularly necessary to take care that the general State rate of pay is to be observed in the remuneration of peasants for the delivery of food or the preparation of wood or other fuel.

16. The Council of the Labor Army is required to conduct a regular accounting of the amount of labor performed by the army on the basis of these regulations, about the feeding of the workers and about labor productivity. The Central Statistical Department in agreement with the Supreme Council for Public Economy and the War Department is instructed to draw up an estimate defining the forms and period of registration.

17. The present regulation comes into force with the moment of its publication by telegraph.

President of the Council of Defense,
V. Ul’ianov (Lenin)

Source: Soviet Russia. Vol. II, No. 22 (29 May 1920), pp. 547-548.

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