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Machine Operators on Collective Farms in the European North of Russia in the 1930s – 1960s: Their Number, Composition, and Training System. P. 25–32

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Section: History




Larisa V. Izyumova
Vologda State University 15 Lenina St., Vologda, 160000, Russian Federation; e-mail:


This paper dwells on the status and role of the most qualified agricultural workers – machine operators – in collective farm production. The starting point of the research is the 1930s, when during mass collectivization there was established a new production system “collective farm–machine and transport station”. The endpoint is the late 1960s, when the legal status of collective farmers started to change as new payment types and mechanisms were introduced in public production, while the rural population adopted new behavioral patterns and survival strategies. In the 1930s through early 1950s, machine operators, as seasonal workers at machine and tractor stations, were members of collective farms. Then, in 1953 they acquired the status of state enterprise workers, only to lose it in 1958 as the machine and tractor stations were closed down and again become collective farmers. In this research the author studied work-related documents of party and agrarian bodies kept in the central and regional archives. It revealed a steadily increasing share of machine operators in the total number of farmers except for the period of the Great Patriotic War, when a vast majority of qualified tractor drivers, combine operators and mechanics were mobilized, leaving low-qualified workers behind. Machine operators remained the most privileged category of rural workers, with their guaranteed wages and social benefits. The system of professional training of machine operators had evolved from short-course training to a large structure of public education: a system of rural vocational schools. The research found that during the period under study workers continued to leave the agricultural sector for timber industry and production plants in the cities, thus creating an acute shortage of skilled workers on collective farms. It should be noted that machine operators left because of low wages, bad working conditions, and low occupational prestige within agriculture in general.


machine operator, collective farmer, collective farm production, machine and tractor station, system of professional training
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