Ateliers > L’évolution des modes de rémunération sur la longue durée

Mots des rémunérations

Coordinateurs : Michel Pigenet (Université Paris I-Sorbonne Pantheon), Leda Papastefanaki (University of Ioannina)


SESSION 1 : Vendredi 3 novembre, 14h - 15h30

Chair: Michel Pigenet (Université Paris I-Sorbonne Pantheon)
Discussant: Stefano Bellucci (Leiden University and IISH Amsterdam)

Some critical reflections on modern wage theories, from Keynes to Piketty

Christos Efstathiou (University of Warwick)

The paper will critically reflect on several modern conceptualisations of remuneration. It will try to show how several economists of the previous century used concepts, such as ‘salary’ or ‘wage’, without really touching upon the role and different modes of capitalist exploitation. This is possibly because as Piketty suggests (without always following), ‘the discipline of economics has yet to get over its childish passion for mathematics and for purely theoretical and often highly ideological speculation, at the expense of historical research and collaboration with the other social sciences.‘ As I am not an economist, my reflections will be mainly of historical nature. The main point of my paper is that modern economic theory tends to underplay the history of capitalist development (epochs, stages, variations) and neglect the formation of the wage labour. An additional, important shortcoming is the lack of data analyses and historical comparisons.

Firstly, the paper will focus on some common themes between several modern economic schools – mainly the Keynesian economics, the Chicago School and some more recent heterodox approaches. It will briefly analyse the origins of economic concepts, which deal with the idea of wage labour, and discuss their affinities and differences. Here the main aim will be to introduce a wide range of comparative historical material to contextualise these theories. Secondly, the paper will try to explain why several economists tried to resurrect old classical or liberal concepts and oppose Marxism. A critique of their accounts will be seen as an important step in order to understand why wage labour is mainly seen as a ‘race between education and technology’. Here, the paper will explore the political/ideological origins of their conceptualisations. Finally, it will discuss why modern economic theory needs history as much as history requires economics. More specifically, it will try to understand why several economic accounts of the previous century were mostly based on some ‘trans-historical’ criteria rather than comparative historical research; and failed to construct a general history of modern inequality. 





Evolution of remuneration modes and socialized wages in Russian industries in the first half of the 20th century: concepts and descriptions

Leonid Borodkin (Lomonosov Moscow State University)

The paper is aimed to the description of evolution of remuneration modes in Russian industries in the period embracing several decades from pre-revolutionary industrialization to the Soviet industrialization. During that period a lot of new forms of remuneration modes and socialized wages emerged, especially in the years of Soviet industrialization which generated absolutely new remuneration modes.

1. We give short description of remuneration modes practiced in Russian industries in the end of 19th – beginning of 20th cc. Those modes were more or less compatible with practices adopted in other countries during the early industrialization period. The dominating form was direct earnings (which depended on worker’s qualification and labor productivity) added by skill premium and some forms of socialized wages.

During the War Communism years (1918-1921) work compensation existed as a system of free rations or social services granted by the state to its citizens. It was outdated by the the Soviet Decree of September 1921 which introduced wage system as “the main factor of industry development” in the new conditions of NEP (New Economic Policy). According to a new tariffs system all the workers and clerks were classified into 17 categories taking into account all kinds of work qualification. The wage gap between the 1st  and the 17th  categories was 5 times. Wages covered all the compensations: the cost of food rations, work clothes etc. Some forms of payment in kind were introduced in that years. For example kitchen gardens were given to workers’ families. In the early 1920s the most important aspect of the state policy in labor relations was to lead the workers to piece work keeping fixed rates of output. The VI Congress of Trade Unions stated wide use of encourage form of wages by means of application of direct non-limited piece wages. One more aspect of labor policy was oriented to the introduction of levelling fund (to increase wages in more degree than it took place as a result of changes of work productivity) and social security fund at the Soviet enterprises in the 1920s.

2. Soviet industrialization (1928-1940) created new forms of remuneration and new approach to regulation of industrial wages and its differentiation. Labor of advanced workers was compensated actively on the basis of shock-workers (udarniki) and Stakhanovite movements. Norms and ratesof payment were an important part of the tariffs system which was very complicated and was a subject for consideration and reconsideration in the labor contract/agreement. For stimulation of workers a special system of privileges in distribution was established:  for stakhanovites, veterans of war, women with children and others. The administration gave obligations to supply workers by many goods and almost everything through the special department of workers supply (ORS). While being ineffective the system of natural supply and distribution didn't die after the liquidation of talons and gradually turned to the social work of the factory ("sotsialka").

In conclusion: wages was the main component of remuneration in the period under consideration (except for the short interval which covers the first years after the Revolution of 1917 including the Civil War period). We studied the three periods: pre-revolutionary industrialization (1880s-1914); New Economic Policy (1921-1928); Soviet Industrialization (1928-1940). Each of these periods can be characterized by specific set of remuneration forms which reflected political and economic conditions of each period however the role of wages was decisive for each period. In the paper we give vocabulary and the concepts of those remuneration forms in their evolution.




Who Creates Value in Socialism? Contesting Wage Distribution inside Yugoslav Self-Managed Factories

Goran Musić (University of Graz, Centre for Southeast European Studies)


The workers’ self-management terminology substituted the term “wage” with “personal income” as Yugoslav workers were allegedly not engaged in wage relations. They were collective managers of social property who deducted individual parts of the total income. Workers’ delegates inside the workers’ councils decided the exact division of the enterprise wage fund among different occupational groups. However, the factory meetings were sites of never-ending disputes and opposing claims over the “impartial, socialist distribution according to work”.

The most obvious rift was the one between the shop floor workers and the office staff. The wages of the manual workers had a significant variable part and were normally dependent on piece rates. The manual workers appropriated the official concept of “productive and non-productive work” to promote their interests. The creation of common wealth was allegedly in the hands of the direct producers and all other professions in industry were supposed to be rewarded strictly in accordance with their contribution to the smooth running of the production cycle.

On the other hand, the white-collar workers’ wages were more stable and calculated by the work hour or job description. For engineers, economists and other factory staff, everyday efforts on the shop floor were futile without a proper long-term development strategy and selling skills. The official ideology might have granted manual labor with a special quality of being able to produce surplus value. Yet, the professional staff knew that the Yugoslav socialist market rewarded those producers who conducted business in a more efficient manner and knew how to market their products.

Based on the discussions taking place inside the self-management bodies, this paper will present the complex divisions among workers inside the self-management factories and the ways in which different occupational groups tried to connect their wage claims the socialist notions of workers’ self-management, productivity and work results.


SESSION 2 : Vendredi 3 novembre, 16h-17h30

Chair: Leonid Borodkin (Lomonosov Moscow State University)
Discussant: Leda Papastefanaki (University of Ioannina)

Ways of remuneration of work  in viticola  Catalonia (18th and 19th centuries)

Llorenç Ferrer-Alos (Universitat de Barcelona, Grup Treball Institucions i Gènere)


Work is one of the factors of production necessary to transform nature into goods and services based on a certain technical level and knowledge. On many occasions an individual has to work for another and then the question arises as to how this work should be remunerated. 

The form that will take the remuneration of the work will depend on many factors that often interact among them: the asymmetric and force relationships in a society derived from the control of land ownership, from the control of livestock resources, from the  control of natural resources;  the social relations in a certain place (how are the property rights distributed); the characteristics of the production (seasonality, difficulty and costs of plantation, location of natural resources to be transformed, intensity of crops);  the technical complexity of the work (specialization the people who works),  the advantages of the different options that give work (preference for direct work or indirect work);  the physical location of the work regarding the residence of the people (people can not be moved daily to the workplace); the need to find mechanisms to guarantee work (price made versus fixed salary); forms of collaboration in farms between peers, etc.

All these elements condition the different forms of remuneration of the work that occur in the different societies. In this communication we want to try to define the type of contracting forms that were given to viticulture in Catalonia in the 18th and 19th centuries from a first description of the agrarian structure that had been modeled throughout history and the forms of work and remuneration that was developed there.

In a first approach, it is worth noting: a / indirect forms of compensation (rights derived from contracts of rabassa morta, contracts of masoveria and leases); different categories of young people working in the farms (“mossos”, “bovers”, “porcaters” ...); female labor (breds, “porcateres”, “birbadores”, nurses ...); specialized works that move on the territory to provide their services (master builders, tailors, “paraires” ...); livestock operation contracts; contracts for the exploitation of raw materials (clays, forests to make coal, wood forests ...); work exchange between modest holdings (back-to-backs); groups of people (“colles” for all types of work, etc. The communication will make a description and classification of the different forms of remuneration of the work in viticultural Catalonia.



La structure des rémunérations dans les filatures au XIXe siècle. L’apport des registres comptables dans le coton et le jute   

 Mohamed Kasdi (professeur de collège, docteur en Histoire) & Didier Terrier (professeur émérite, université de Valenciennes)


 Ordinairement, pour évoquer les salaires ouvriers au XIXe siècle, on se contente de chiffres ronds, d’estimations globales, sans toujours savoir comment ils sont fabriqués et à quoi ils correspondent. Le recours aux registres comptables, en longue durée, dont on dispose pour les usines Voortman à Gand (coton) et Saint-Frères, à Saint-Ouen en Picardie (jute), permettent précisément d’aller bien plus loin. Pour ces deux filatures d’importance, à la pointe de la modernité, on dispose, individu par individu, poste de travail par poste de travail, du prix de la tâche à effectuer, de la durée du travail (en semaine en quinzaine), des retenues sur salaire et de la rémunération finale de chacun, le tout à partir de 1836 à Gand, de 1861 à Saint-Ouen en Picardie, et ce jusqu’à la fin du siècle. Il est donc possible de déterminer en longue durée ce qui compose le salaire de ces hommes et de ces femmes attachés, ici ou là, à un poste de travail.

Il est acquis que dans le monde de l'industrie textile concentrée et mécanisée, le salaire constitue la totalité des revenus ouvriers tandis que le libéralisme absolu en matière de rémunération laisse place à tous les systèmes et tarifs appelés à rétribuer le travail. Dans les filatures, plus particulièrement, il  désigne - et les registres mobilisés dans notre étude en attestent clairement-  soit une rémunération au temps (à la journée ou à l’heure le plus souvent), soit une rémunération au rendement (évalué sur la base d’un métrage ou d’une pesée des matières fabriquées), et ce toujours dans le cadre d’un poste de travail où l’homogénéité d’un système de salaire est de mise. Ce double système de rémunération suppose en outre rapidement, dans les usines les plus modernes, un travail toujours défini de manière rationnelle où la place et les gestes de chacun sont bien circonscrits. Les écrits techniques, mais encore les plans des bâtiments (quand ils existent) attestent clairement d’une organisation du procès de production qui, globalement, est  d’une rigueur extrême. En ce sens, les filatures, précocement mécanisées, anticipent sur ce que sera plus tardivement l’univers usinier dans son ensemble. La rémunération au temps repose, dans le premier cas, sur la durée du travail effectué et rémunéré à la semaine ou à la  quinzaine, ce à un rythme fixé au préalable et respecté l’un dans l’autre par chacun ; celle définie au rendement (ou aux pièces) a pour base, dans le second cas, l’intensité de l’effort productif et l’habileté de chacun pour accompagner le rythme imposé par les métiers, ne serait-ce qu’en réglant correctement les rouages de manière à limiter la fréquence des interruptions afin de réparer les pièces défaillantes ou le fil disposé sur le métier.

 Toutefois, rares sont les historiens qui, pour comprendre la structure des rémunérations, se sont situés au plus près de la technique afin de comprendre la logique de la division du travail et la hiérarchie des salaires qui en découle. Comment se trouve justifié ou non l’éventail des tarifs qui déterminent la rémunération de chacun ? La répartition hiérarchisée des taux de salaire reste-t-elle stable ou évolue-t-elle en fonction de la modernisation de l’outillage et de la mobilisation plus ou moins grande des compétences, de la féminisation de certaines tâches et des efforts exigés de chacun ?  Plus précisément, assiste-t-on en longue durée à une progressive homogénéisation ou bien, au contraire, à une accentuation des différences dans le prix du travail fixé pour chaque tâche d’une part, dans la rémunération effective pour chacun des ouvriers et des ouvrières d’autre part? Vaut-il mieux travailler en étant payé aux pièces ou au temps ? Pour ceux qui sont rétribués aux pièces, l'intensification de la production se traduit-elle par une ouverture ou une fermeture de l'éventail des salaires ? Ce qui est vrai pour les hommes l'est-il pour les postes occupés par les femmes ? Pour l'ensemble des travailleurs, que représentent enfin les retenues sur salaire ?

            L’association des réalités comptables et les discours tenus par les entrepreneurs, voire les ouvrages théoriques qui sont rédigés dans la seconde moitié du siècle, conduisent manifestement le chercheur à déjouer le caractère réducteur des mots qui désignent alors le salaire. Sous couvert d'uniformité, ils désignent en fait des réalités disparates et mouvantes. Dans ces grandes usines, les ouvriers et les ouvrières sont unis par une communauté de destins, mais la variété des rémunérations est extrême tout au long du siècle. Comment dès lors ne pas faire le lien entre ce constat et des stratégies  patronales visant à diviser pour mieux régner, tout simplement ?




Nomenclature and working division in the Spanish mining: 19th century and mid-20th century

José Joaquín García Gómez (Universidad de Almería), Ángel Pascual Martínez Soto (Universidad de Murcia), Miguel Pérez de Perceval (Universidad de Murcia)


This paper analyses the Spanish nomenclature used in mines in the golden age of mining in this country. This nomenclature was liked not only with the description of the tools and materials that were used but with the minerals extracting systems and the auxiliary tasks (selecting, washing, concentration, transport...). Next to it there are a few specific forms of designation of the work organization and the professional categories. The mining world was characterized by a specific division of labour, with the development of individual professions. The labour organization evolved during the 19th century, due to the evolution of production and technology, adapting the vocabulary to these transformations. Finally, there was a specific vocabulary, which in the historical mining basins was inherited from the medieval mining and from the work carried out with forced labour.

In short, we find a contrast between the traditional nomenclature and a division of labour which was transformed due to the technological development and the consolidation of a modern mining.




Omnia mutantur, nihil interit: how hated remuneration systems were saved from social struggles by lexical changes. A case study from Peñarroya mines in Italy (1930-1940)

Francesca Sanna (Phd student in History, Université Paris Diderot Paris 7, ED 382, Lab. LIED)


«si vuole soltanto eliminare la parola Bedaux? E allora facciamo come Pirelli che non parla più di Bedaux, ma bensì di punti e conta tutto a punti » Pietro Stefani, Chief Engineer of Pertusola Mines in Sardinia, 1935.[1] In 1931 the Fascist Union Federation of Cagliari engaged a struggle against Pertusola Mining Company (Penarroya’s controlled company in Sardinia), because of the introduction of Bedaux system. This opposition was motivated by the overexploitment and randoming use of this evaluation and remuneration system. Union requested Bedaux abolition, but Pertusola refused any form of negociation. A solution had to be found. Since 1932, engineers were working on a Bedaux system variation called, at first, « Bedaux énérgetique » or « neo-Bedaux ». In 1933, when union became more aggressive, it was introduced as « Gennaper » (a composition of Gennamari – the name of a mine – and Pertusola – the company name): an attempt to prove its brand new caracter, more equitable and scientific based than Bedaux. But this was not enough : Union obteined in 1935 the complete abolition of Bedaux. As Pietro Stefani said in the quote above, many companies coped with this new agreement with a sort of « lexical trick » : they changed the name, but the core of systems remained untouched. This was what happened in Pirelli, for exemple. In Pertusola mines, engineers tried to « cheat » the unions not only with a change of system’s name, but also of offices (from « Ufficio Bedaux » to « Ufficio Cottimi »), and internal reports, in which they suggested to be careful with words. Bedaux system had this type of lexical problems many times in his history, for exemple, in 1937, the British subsidiary of Bedaux Society became indipendent and changed his name because of the ambigous relationship between Charles Bedaux and the nazis. However, with this case study, I would like to show not only the general behaviour with Bedaux word, but also that, even in a marginal environment like sardinian mines, lexic mattered on a very detailed level.



SESSION 3 : Samedi 4 novembre, 9h-11h

Chair:  Leda Papastefanaki (University of Ioannina)
Discussant: Stefano Bellucci (Leiden University and IISH Amsterdam)

The work strategies of the poor and the diverse ways of their remuneration (Greece, 1900-1950)

Aliki Vaxevanoglou (Research Center for Greek Society, Academy of Athens)


The continuing labour mobility of the poor is a constant in history, yet the conditions of this movement are set by the structures of each given society. In the Balkan region (Greece is of interest here) the phenomenon of continued labor mobility as the unique means of making a living for the poorer social strata is characterized, even in the long term, by the lack of control and the freedom of movement. Based on interview material and autobiographies, this paper aims to approach the rationale, the results, the forms of remuneration, and the expectations behind this strategy in the Greek space until the mid-twentieth century.

The structure that prevails in Greece and is reproduced even in the 1950s and 1960s is the family economy: it is a model of agricultural origins in which the family is the only productive unit. It amasses ownership and productive means, while the members of the household (men, women, children) constitute the work force without proper remuneration. The model allows for financial independence, limited and only complementary salaried work and, most importantly, the control of the working time (which fluctuates depending on the family needs).

From the nineteenth century the prevalent model goes into crisis. The countryside is unable to hold the entirety of its population and sets migration in motion, both within the country and abroad. Migration abroad is strictly regulated by the state, but the situation differs when it comes to labor migration within the borders.

Within the borders, among the poorer social strata, family economy is forced to release some of its members, especially children and the youth. The information pertaining to our group, which originally comes from agricultural spaces and heads for the cities, delineate a country where child labor remains dominant until the 1950-60s[2]. The rule is an atypical labor "market" with atypical forms of remuneration. Having worked already as children within the household, our group begins working outside the family while still under-aged. Their primary aim is simply self-sustenance, food and board: little servants, foster children and domestic (or any kind) of helpers, as part of a “foster” family unit, they work without proper remuneration (in these poor traditional societies the worker who was fed was considered to be remunerated and protected). 

Subsequently, relentlessly moving in the "grey zones" of economy the group in question seeks any kind of unspecialized--or barely specialized--work both along the entirety of the economic spectrum and throughout the country. The secondary aim of the group concerns jobs that are remunerated in currency; at the same time they seem to steadily avoid labor “commitment”, in other words they opt for daily wages or work for a limited number of years. For several decades, the group continues to move through atypical jobs with no social security, receiving the corresponding remuneration.

The survival strategy of the poor who continuously move through geographical and professional spaces seems therefore to adjust to the demand fluctuations of an extensive atypical "labor market". They work wherever jobs are available, compressing the cost of living, making the most of things, and eventually aiming to put money aside in order to start "their own business". The developments in Greek economy before and after 1970 enable the emergence of a broadened version of the initial model of family economy...




Forms of remuneration in the Greek Industry. The case of Aspioti-ELKA Graphic Arts Company in Corfu, 1870s-1930s

Dimitrios Kopanas (Phd student in Economic History, Department of History and Archaelogy, University of Ioannina)


Historiography on the Greek paradigm of remuneration in the industrial sector has shown the coexistence of different systems of payment even in the same working space. These systems of remuneration had an important effect on the mentality and culture of the workforce; for instance, they aimed in creating incentives of greater productivity in cases of payment per product or resulted in certifying gender inequality in the shop floor.

This paper will focus on Aspioti-ELKA Graphic Arts Company which was based in Corfu from the 1870s until the outbreak of the 2nd World War. The enterprise was the exclusive supplier of printed monopoly goods provided by the Greek State, such as playing cards, cigarette paper, stamps, bonds etc. Work in the Aspioti-ELKA factory combined artistic and unskilled labour, both being crucial to the formation of the company’s remuneration system.

Examining the Aspioti-ELKA’s remuneration system, the paper proposed will attempt to raise questions regarding the different forms of payment that are functioning simultaneously in a single production unit, taking into account several factors as specialization, gender, age and religion. Primary sources of research include the company’s archive, the Corfu Trade Union Center Archive and the Corfu Prefecture Archive.



About a collective research on the price of labor in France in the 20th and 21st centuries

Michel Margairaz (Université Paris I-Sorbonne Pantheon) & Michel Pigenet (Université Paris I-Sorbonne Pantheon)


On the occasion of the publication of a book based on a collective research on the evolution of remuneration methods and their stakes in France (including colonial spaces) of the 20th and 21st centuries, we propose to review the Of the survey, some of its findings and the tracks that remain to be digged.

               With this in mind, the presentation will focus on two issues. The first will revisit the long cohabitation, in France, of wage conditions and systems of remuneration of work, more complementary than exclusive. This situation, favorable to all the social mixes, pluriactivities and intermittences, interested both the rural and the biggest factories. We will favor the persistence of “prix-fait” or “à l’entreprise” contracts, which are more inspired by commercial relations - the “louage d’ouvrage” of the “code civil” - than by wage-earning services.

               The second will question the construction of the French form of wage regulation followed during the five decades from the Popular Front (1936-1937) to the beginning of the 1980s. In view of economic and social factors - full or underemployment, Mobilization of employee organizations - it will be necessary to understand the long duration of state policies of subordination of wage regulation to economic, monetary and financial considerations.


A propos d’une recherche collective sur le prix du travail en France aux 20e et 21e siècles

A l’occasion de la parution d’un ouvrage issu d’une recherche collective sur l’évolution des modes de rémunérations et leurs enjeux dans la France (espaces coloniaux compris) des 20e et 21e siècles, nous nous proposons de revenir sur le déroulement de l’enquête, quelques-uns de ses résultats et les pistes qui demeurent à creuser. Dans cette perspective, l’exposé s’organisera autour de deux questions.

La première reviendra sur la longue cohabitation, en France, de conditions salariales et de systèmes de rémunération du travail, plus complémentaires qu’exclusifs. Cette situation, propice à toutes les mixités sociales, pluriactivités et intermittences, intéressa à la fois le monde rural et celui des plus grandes usines. Nous privilégierons la persistance de contrats à « prix-fait » ou « à l’entreprise », davantage inspirés des relations commerciales – le « louage d’ouvrage » du code civil – que du salariat stricto sensu – « louage de services ».      

La seconde interrogera la construction de la forme française de régulation des salaires suivie durant les cinq décennies décisives allant du Front populaire (1936-1937) au début des années 1980. Au regard des facteurs économiques et sociaux – plein ou sous-emploi, capacités de mobilisation des organisations de salariés – il s’agira de comprendre la longue durée de politiques d’Etat de subordination de la régulation salariale aux considérations économiques, monétaires et financières.





[1] « Do we only want to remove the word Bedaux ? So let’s do like Pirelli and talk no more about Bedaux, let’s talk about points and do every calculation with points », Archive AIC (Associazione Industriali Cagliari), cartella 18, fasc: Bedaux, Tabelle, lettera dell’ing. Pietro Stefani al direttore generale A. Lhéraud.

[2] Also confirmed by formal statistics.  

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