quent ostracism of Russian industry and trade, and the refusal of the
Western countries to do business with the Soviets on ordinary business
credit terms, have necessarily resulted in the comparatively slow progress
in the development of the industries of the Soviet Union. This in its turn
made it impossible for industrial enterprises and institutions to pay their
contributions to the insurance fund punctually. Hence these funds were
very weak and could not support the insured in that degree of comfort
which it was the aim of the authorities to attain. It was essential before
all things for the benefit of the State as a whole, that the active skilled
workers should not in any way deteriorate by reason of temporary
incapacitation, or unemployment, hence from the very first the benefits
to such classes of workers was made equal to their average wages when in
work, thus insuring that the workers most needed for the development of
industry would return to work as speedily as possible, and in an unimpaired
It was also pointed out to us that the issue of pensions to the totally
incapacitated, by reason of age, accident or war, and to widows and
orphans, required insurance workers of experience and that the Soviet
Insurance Departments had been very short of such men of experience.
Now, however, that the Soviet industries had been very considerably
strengthened, insurance contributions were coming in more regularly.
Thus, in March, 1923, only 30 per cent, of the contributions had been paid
in, whereas, by the middle of 1924, 85 per cent, had been paid and in
Moscow about 95 per cent. Moreover, experience in the work of insurance
is being rapidly acquired, and it is hoped that in the very near future it
will be found possible to increase all classes of pensions as well as the
It should, of course, be noted that apart from the benefits received by
the unemployed from the insurance funds each trade union also has its
own system of benefits for its unemployed.
In addition to benefits and treatment for workers who have already
fallen ill, a great amount of work is being done by the Insurance Fund
Committees together with the Health Departments and Trade Unions
as far as means will permit, to prevent illness. In the first place they
endeavour to improve the working conditions in factory, workshop, and
institutions, by insisting on the carrying out of the provisions on the protection of labour included in the code of labour laws, and where necessary
penalising the enterprise for failure to do so by imposing the maximum
contribution towards the insurance of the workers as described above.
Secondly, they carry on a vigorous propaganda on hygiene by means of
lectures, posters, leaflets, the organisation of exhibitions and health
museums at or near the factories. Thirdly, by sending workers to Health
institutions or sanatoria, as they are called in the U.S.S.R. for six to eight
weeks as a rule, often before they have become actually ill, or by sending
them to night sanatoria. Both these classes of institutions are described
in Chapter XVII.
The Health Departments also pay special attention to the study of the
causes, treatment and prevention of special trade diseases, and a special
Central Institute for this purpose was organised in Moscow in honour of the
fifth anniversary of the organisation of a Soviet medical service.