Lenin and the Trade Unions.

by Lozovsky (1924)

The trade union movement also is very much indebted to Lenin. First of all because he has determined the correct place to be occupied by the trade unions in the class struggle. He fought very bitterly all those in the trade unions of Europe that favored the existence of the trade unions as perfectly independent organizations from the political party of the proletariat.
He proved in a number of cases that, this idea of the independence of the unions from the political movement of the proletariat in reality means independence from revolutionary class politics, that the anarchists and reformists by preaching the idea of the independence of the trade unions are merely serving the interests of the bourgeoisie.
Lenin looked upon the trade unions as the elementary units of working class organization, “as the place where the masses are trained in organization, in collective management, and in Communism.” He was at one and the same time opposed to overestimating as well as underestimating the importance of trade unions. He always insisted upon the necessity of taking part in these mass organizations, irrespective of the nature of their leadership. In his book The Infantile Sicknesses of Communism, in the chapter entitled,
“Shall Revolutionaries Participate in Reactionary Trade Unions?” he criticizes very energetically those Communist elements which at the first onslaught of the reactionary bureaucracy become pessimistic and throw out the slogan of: “Out of the Trade Unions, an immediate split.” Such tactics he designates as: “Unpardonable stupidity which is equivalent to offering the greatest service to the bourgeoisie.” He says: “We must work wherever the masses are, criticize mercilessly the labor aristocracy which is dominated by reformism, narrow craft egotism, and the ideas of bourgeois imperialism.” Lenin would emphasize time and again that without the trade unions the Soviet Government could not have maintained itself in power for more than two weeks. The trade unions are the connecting link between the masses and the proletarian vanguard. It is only by our daily activities that we can convince the masses that it is only we who are capable of leading them from capitalism to Communism.
The development of the revolutionary trade union movement followed that of the Communist movement. The Russian trade union movement was to the Red International of Labor Unions of the same importance as the Communist Party of Russia was to the Communist International. The Russian trade union movement had begun developing with particular intensity after the October Revolution under the ideological and political leadership of Lenin.
Lenin followed the development of the trade union movement with the same interest with which he followed that of the Communist movement. He would always explain that the Amsterdam International is the main support of the international bourgeoisie, and because of this was he so much interested in the Red International of Labor Unions, as can be seen from his communication to the First Congress of the RILU (July 1921) where Lenin said:
“It is hard to express in words the importance of this international trade union congress. Everywhere in the whole world the Communist ideas find ever more followers among the membership of the trade unions. The progress of Communism does not follow a straight line. It is not regular, it has got to overcome thousands of obstacles, but it moves forward just the same. This international trade union congress will hasten the progress of Communism, which will be victorious in the trade union movement. There is no power on earth that is able to prevent the collapse of capitalism and the victory of the working class over the bourgeoisie.”

From this it can be seen what importance Lenin attached to the international unification of the revolutionary trade union movement for the struggles of the working class.



Gathering Location Date Notes
1st World Congress Moscow July 3–19, 1921 Establishes RILU. Attended by 380 delegates, 336 with voting rights.
2nd World Congress Moscow Nov. 19-Dec. 2, 1922 Formally adopts "united front" policy for the trade union movement.
3rd World Congress Moscow July 8-XX, 1924 Adopts weak and non-binding call for unity congress with Amsterdam International.
4th Session of the Central Council Moscow March 9–15, 1926 Lozovsky identifies Britain and the East as main areas for Profintern success.
4th World Congress Moscow March 17 - April 3, 1928
International Conference on Strike




The International Council of Trade and Industrial Unions









A. Lozovsky
All-Russian Trade Union Council

To the Workers of England

The Communist, December 2, 1920.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain




Georgian Workers and the R.T.U.I.

Fraternal Greetings to the International Council of the Red Trade Unions

May, 1921




Appeal to American Workers

Leaflet of the American Bureau — International Council
of Trade and Industrial Unions [Profintern]

May 1921



First Congress

of the Red International of Labour Unions

held in Moscow in July 1921.






The R.I.L.U.

Thesis on Trade Unions

the Programme of Action

the theses on Workers' Control

theses on Factory Committees





Resolutions and decisions

of the First Congress of the RILU

July 20, 1921







A. Lozovsky

The First International Congress of revolutionary trade unions

July 3rd to 19th 1921





Tom Mann

First Congress of RILU 1921






Brief Report on the 1st World Congress of RILU


 (Moscow -July 3-19, 1921)








A. Lozovsky

Program of Action of the Red International of Labour Unions

August-October 1921















Joint Appeal of the Comintern and RILU on the Single Front, January 1, 1922


The Red Trade Union International


whole No. 12 (Feb. 1922), pp. 41-46



Second Congress

of the Red International of Labour Unions

held in Moscow in November 1922.





Constitution 1922

of the

Red International of Labor Unions,

as of

2nd World Congress

November 1922.



Constitution 1921

in PDF - format






Resolutions and Decisions of the Second World Congress of the Red International of Labour Unions (Moscow November 1922.)










January 1923 Inprekorr, iii, 2, p. 31, 6 January 1923






15 January 1923







15 January 1923






16 January 1923





Third Congress

of the Red International of Labour Unions

held in Moscow in July 1924.







A. Lozovsky

Lenin - great strategist of the class war








The world's Trade Union Movement









A. Lozovsky

Fundamental Problems of the World Trade Union Movement
and the Fifth Congress of the Comintern

Moscow, May 12th, 1924.



A. Lozovsky

The World’s Trade Union Movement

Pamphlet issued by the Trade Union Educational League, 1924





World Labor Unity









MARX and the Trade Unions




Lenin and the Trade Union Movement

A. Lozovsky







Is Unity of the International Trade Union Movement Possible?






A. Lozovsky


The Communist International,

No. 15 (New Series), 1925, pp. 3-31






What is the Red International of Labour Unions ?







« History of international Trade Union movement. Sheet No 3. » (1927)




October 1928

Remarks on American trade union questions

Remarks on American trade union questions by the General Secretary of the Red International of Labor Unions, Lozovsky, are reprinted from the Official Organ of R.I.L.U. printed in English for


[...] Things, however, are different in the United States. Here the Central Committee instigated an opposition against the Fourth R.I.L.U. Congress decisions on the American question. Even previous to the Congress there was much dissatisfaction in the Central Committee of the American Party with my sharp criticism of the erroneous attitude of the Party leadership to the Trade Union Educational League, its passivity on the question of organising unorganised workers, its incorrect attitude to the Negro workers, its incorrect attitude to the Negro workers, and the way it regarded the reactionary American Federation of Labour. This dissatisfaction was expressed in the protest of the American Communist Party C.C. against the R.I.L.U. appeal to the T.U.E.L. Conference, held in December, 1927, because in this appeal the necessity of organising the unorganised in the trade unions was stressed. This was further expressed in several articles, among which comrade Pepper’s articles occupy a special place.

In The Communist comrade Pepper published an article to prove that American capitalism is extremely strong, that the American working class is very poorly organised, that the Party is weak, and that there are many difficulties in general in America. This is what he said also at the Congress. Comrade Pepper sees nothing but the power of American capitalism, and discovering America anew, although this discovery was made long ago, completely passed over those vital problems raised in my articles on the eve of the Fourth R.I.L.U. Congress in the order of self-criticism. To befuddle the question still more, comrade Pepper launched the “theory” of the possible growth of the American Federation of Labour. Why did he do this? This was done in order to divert the attention of the Party from the immediate problem that faces us today, of organising the unorganised, to the future problems that will rise if the American Federation of Labour begins to grow again. All this teacup guessing had only one political meaning – instead of concentrating attention on the most urgent task to dispel the attention of the Party. I do no intend now to take up in detail Pepper’s “theory” as outlined in his nine points, but will merely say that whereas comrade Pepper previously frequently lost his bearings in European affairs, today he is all at sea in American affairs. He could be truly named: the muddler of the two hemispheres.

Let us leave comrade Pepper and take up the C.C. of the American Party. The American Communist Party C.C. declared itself to be against the Fourth R.I.L.U. Congress resolution on the American question. Why did they come out against this resolution? This the C.C. is concealing. When the members of the C.C. arrived in Moscow and saw that to oppose the decisions of the Fourth R.I.L.U. Congress would not be very expedient, they declared in Moscow that they had long ago expressed support for the Fourth Congress decisions. It was certainly comic to find at several R.I.L.U. meetings that whereas the majority of the C.C. had expressed support for the decisions, comrades Foster, Bittleman, Cannon and Johnstone, C.C. members, declared that there was not a word on the subject to be found in the minutes of the C.C.






Problems of Strike Strategy

Decisions of the International Conference on Strike Strategy

Held in Strassburg, Germany, January, 1929




10 Years

"The Labour Monthly"



The Labour Monthly, Vol. XIII, July 1931, No. 7.
Publisher: The Labour Publishing Company, Ltd., London




The life and struggle of the NEGRO TOILERS

by George Padmore

The Role of the R.I.L.U. in the Struggles of the Negro Toilers


The Red International of Labour Unions (Profintern) celebrated its Tenth Anniversary in 1930. Having been organised in the very heat of the acute post-war economic and political crisis in the most important European countries, the Profintern came to be the militant revolutionary headquarters of the world trade union movement, rallying to its banner all the class-conscious proletarian elements of the whole world.

Today the Profintern is in the thick of its struggle for winning over the working class. In spite of its fine successes in extending its influence the Profintern cannot yet say that it embraces the majority of the working class. The Profintern is still obliged to wage a relentless struggle for freeing the workers from the influence of the bourgeoisie, the reformists and anarcho-syndicalists. The greatest enemy of the Profintern in the struggle for influence over the working class is the International Trade Union Federation, the so-called Amsterdam International.

The Amsterdam International was organised one year prior to the Profintern. In spite of its high-sounding name of “International Federation,” Amsterdam is, in the main, an association of European trade unions, owing to the fact that out of the 28 organisations affiliating with it 23 are in Europe and only 5 organisations are non-European. Besides, the Amsterdam International is a white chauvinist international. The Amsterdamites reflect the interests of the upper strata of the working class in the imperialist countries, and look down upon the trade union movement of the colonial and coloured peoples. Amsterdam’s first and most important task is to preserve and reinforce capitalism and imperialism, and to strengthen the position of the bourgeoisie by suppressing the revolutionary movement in the imperialist countries and the national liberation movements in the colonies and semi-colonial countries.

The Profintern is the first real International of Trade Unions, because the workers of all nationalities and races, regardless of colour or creed, have rallied to its banner. The Profintern has its sections in practically all countries in the world, in the form of independent trade unions and opposition groups and minorities inside the reformist trade unions. Besides these trade unions, which are organisationally connected with the Profintern, there are a whole number of trade union federations which adhere to the ideological leadership of the Profintern. Two very powerful organisations are among these – the Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat and the Latin-American Confederation of Labour.

The Red International of Labour Unions is the first Trade Union International which furthered the development of the trade union movement among the colonial peoples, and succeeded in rallying a great part of them to its banner. It is the only international which conducts a consistent and permanent struggle against white chauvinism for equal rights for the labour movement in the colonial and semi-colonial countries, for the correct solution of the national-race problem. This struggle has only just begun. The problem of national equality has not been sufficiently appraised even by many of the Profintern supporters, while in the ranks of those sections of the working class which still follow the reformist and the reactionary leadership the “race struggle” in most cases, we regret to say, overshadows the class struggle. The Profintern has, however, mapped out a correct line for solving the national-race problem. It has indicated the path for waging the struggle against race chauvinism, against all colour bars, for uniting the workers of all races and nations.

A very vivid example of the national-race policy of the Profintern is its fight for strengthening and extending the trade union movement among the Negro workers. The Negro workers are the most exploited, the most oppressed in the world. It was the fate of the Negro workers to pay the horrible tribute to slavery, which served to destroy millions upon millions of black toilers. The Negro workers even now are actually slave-bound to their white conquerors. Different forms of forced labour, peonage, expropriation of their lands, extraordinary laws and unbearably heavy taxes, lynchings, segregation, etc., etc., are up till now the fate of the Negro toiling masses languishing under the yoke of imperialism. Tens of thousands of Negro workers are still groaning under the lash of their enslavers.

The Negro workers, however, exploited and oppressed by the imperialists, have not received the necessary support of the organised labour movement. The white worker, in many cases even today, still regards the Negro as a pariah, and scornfully refuses to stretch out a helping hand to his black brother. Even in the ranks of the revolutionary workers numerous examples of white chauvinism can be recorded. A long and bitter struggle has been waged by the Profintern against this psychology of “white superiority.” Day in and day out, year after year, the Profintern has raised the Negro problem before its affiliated sections in the U.S.A., South Africa, England, France, Belgium, Portugal, etc., sharply condemning any and all manifestations of white chauvinism and underestimation of winning the black workers for the class struggle, pointing out the necessity of paying the most serious attention to the organisation of the Negro workers into revolutionary trade unions together with the white workers.

In order to strengthen and stimulate trade union activities among the Negro masses, the Profintern finally established a Negro Trade Union Committee composed of Negro workers from the United States, South, East, West and Equatorial Africa, the British and French West Indies and Latin America.

Since the establishment of the Committee, the Profintern has to some extent succeeded in overcoming white chauvinism in its ranks, and has corrected the mistakes of its American section, which formerly ignored work among the Negroes. The Profintern will continue its fight until it completely eradicates all traces of white chauvinism from its ranks and unites all workers – white black, yellow, brown – in one revolutionary trade union movement.







Fifth World Congress of the RILU






Resolutions of the Fifth World Congress of the RILU






Social Insurance

Resolution of the 5th World Congress of the RILU






The way forward !

Theses adopted by the VIII Session of the Central Council of the RILU





Breaking Through !

Theses of the VIII Session of the Central Council of the RILU

on the M.M. and its tasks





Every Factory a Fortress !

Theses of the VIII Session of the Central Council of the RILU

on work in factories





20 000 000 UNEMPLOYED






Why Unemployment ?





The Revolutionary Role of Worker Correspondents

By William P. Dunne

Workers Party of America
Daily Worker Publishing Company
Chicago, Ill. [1927]






MAY - DAY - 1946

Historical Document from 1946

(Translation from Portuguese language)







Chartism and the Trades Union






Strike Strategy

John Steuben - 1950





Where were you, brother ?

report on imperialist trade unions


(not communist content- but a lot of useful information)







Resolution of the C.C., R.S.D.L.P.(Bolsheviks)

V. I.   Lenin

December 30, 1917

(12 January, 1918)

Draft Resolution for the C.C., R.S.D.L.P.(B.)
Concerning the Expulsion from the Party of

S. A. Lozovsky

Taking into consideration

1) that Comrade Lozovsky, from the very beginning of the October Revolution, has expressed opinions which radically diverge from those of the Party and of the revolutionary proletariat in general, but coincide on all major points with the petty-bourgeois negation of the dictatorship of the proletariat as an essential phase in the transition to socialism;

2) that by his statement of November…[1] in the newspaper Novaya Zhizn,[2] which has gone over to the bourgeoisie, Comrade Lozovsky has aroused general indignation not only among all Party people, but among the class-conscious workers at large[3] and that the resolution of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. concerning Comrade Lozovsky’s expulsion from the Party, passed soon after this statement had been made, was not announced and carried out only because of the hopes expressed by some comrades that the vacillations of Comrade Lozovsky were of a temporary nature caused by his inability to quickly grasp the significance of the historic upheaval that was taking place with such extraordinary speed;

3) that the expectations of the comrades who wished to give Comrade Lozovsky time to fully grasp the significance of the revolution that took place, have not been justified and that Comrade Lozovsky’s entire political conduct and especially his articles in Nos. 7 and 8 of Professionalny Vestnik[4] point to this comrade’s complete divergence from the cardinal principles of socialism in his approach to the role of the proletariat in the socialist revolution;

4) that membership of the Party by a person who holds an important post in the trade union movement and is debauching that movement with shoddy bourgeois ideas, not only compromises the Party and demoralises all organisational work among the proletariat, but causes enormous practical harm to the urgent task of organising socialist production by the trade unions;

5) that joint work in the ranks of a single Party is impossible with a person who does not understand the necessity for the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is recognised by our Party Programme, who does not understand that without such a dictatorship, that is, without a systematic, ruthless suppression of the resistance of the exploiters, which sticks at no bourgeois-democratic formulas, one cannot conceive of any consistently democratic, leave alone socialist, revolution, nor of any serious measures for coping with the crisis and economic chaos caused by the war;

6) that joint work in the ranks o a single Party is impossible with a person who repudiates the socialist tasks of the proletariat, which has won political power; with a person who refuses to accept the idea that it is the duty of the trade unions to take upon themselves state functions and carry through with the greatest vigour and determination the socialist reorganisation of production and distribution on a nation-wide scale,

the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P resolves: that Comrade Lozovsky be expelled from the R.S.D.L.Party (Bolsheviks) and this resolution be published without delay.



[1] Lenin has left a space in the manuscript for the date.—Ed.

[2] Novaya Zhizn (New Life)—a daily newspaper, published in Petrograd from April 18 (May 1), 1917 to July 1918; sponsored by Menshevik internationalists and writers grouped around the magazine Letopis (Chronicle). The paper adopted a hostile attitude to the October Socialist Revolution and the establishment of Soviet power. From June 1, 1918, appeared in two editions—in Petrograd and Moscow. Both were closed down in July 1918.

[3] This refers to the statement by S. A. Lozovsky, then Secretary of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions, addressed to the Bolshevik group in the Central Executive Committee. It was published in the newspaper Novaya Zhizn No. 172 for November 4 (17), 1917. In December 1917 S. A. Lozovsky was expelled from the Bolshevik Party. He was reinstated in December 1919.

[4] Lenin is referring to S. A. Lozovsky’s articles “The All-Russia Congress of Trade Unions” and “The Trade Unions and Soviet Power” published in Professionalny Vestnik, Nos. 7 apd 8, 1917.

Professionalny Vestnik (Trade Union Herald)—a journal, organ of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions; appeared from September 1917 to March 1919 in Petrograd.



We can also learn from the anti-communist publications of our enemies !


(anti-communist pamphlet)