On the forest front : labour relations and seasonal migration in 1960s-80s
Title: On the forest front : labour relations and seasonal migration in 1960s-80s
Author: BURKUSH, Kateryna
Citation: Labor history, 2018, Vol. 59, No. 3, pp. 295-315
ISSN: 0023-656X; 1469-9702
This article explores the shaping of seasonal labour migration practices in the region of Transcarpathia, acquired by the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Second World War. In the analysis of migration from that region to the lumber camps of Western Siberia between the late 1950s and the 1970s, the article focuses on the interaction between the state's migration policies - which attempted to manage and stream labour mobility from the region - and the local migration initiatives that developed contrary to the state's aspirations and bypassed the state labour distribution agencies. I argue that the migrant workers' attitude to labour was the key to their outstanding productivity, to the building of longstanding relationships with managers, to the construction of the migrants' self-image and, indeed, to their identity. Situated in the general context of labour relations characteristic of the Soviet Union, the migrant workers' labour practices constituted an alternative to the overall functioning of the labour process in the USSR. Eventually, migrant workers came to represent a cultural paradox within the Soviet axiological system: the value of their labour performance could hardly be denied, but their acquisitive motives and their evading the official employment channels turned them into scapegoats rather than heroes of labour.'
Subject: Labour relations; Seasonal migration; Soviet society
Published online: 05 February 2018
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