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An udarnik (Russian: уда́рник; IPA: [ʊˈdarnʲɪk]; English plural udarniks or udarniki) was a highly productive worker in the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, and other communist countries. The term derived from the expression "udarny trud" for "superproductive, enthusiastic labour", which is often translated as shock labour or strike labour (udar "shock, strike, blow"); udarnik is often translated as shock worker or strike worker. Related terms are shock labour team (udarnaya brigada, often translated as shock brigade or strike brigade) and Shock worker of Communist Labour (Ударник коммунистического труда), a Soviet honorary title. The terms are not directly related to the term shock troops, which is a translation from a German term, but by figurative analogy the terms are connotatively linked. The terminology of shock workers has also been used in other communist states, most notably in the People's Republic of China, North Korea, the People's Republic of Bulgaria, and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The ideology behind promoting shock labour was that through socialist emulation the rest of the workforce would learn from the vanguard.
In People's Republic of Poland a similar title was przodownik pracy (the leader of workship, also can be understood as the teacher (mentor) of [good] work). The term is a calque from another Soviet/Russian term peredovik proizvodstva, literally "leader in production", which was also a formal title of merit.
Most people familiar with this term understood it as the one who introduces superproduction, mainly based on the story of Wincenty Pstrowski, a miner who in 1947 achieved 270 percent of expected efficiency per month. Later Pstrowski died due to misconducted dental intervention, but in popular opinion it was due to deadly exhaustion.
Past 1956, the przodownik pracy title evolved into an equivalent of the employee of the month title given in the Western countries, but even then it was still disliked and eventually done away with.
In the socialist Czechoslovakia, an udarnik was called úderník (with slightly different pronunciation in the Czech and Slovak language). Úderníci were elite workers, who surpassed their work quotas and were used by the Party as propaganda. This breaking of production quotas, while usually real and often reaching astounding heights on the order of hundreds of percent of the original amounts, was achieved at the cost of substandard quality, lack of work safety regulations and lack of concern for personal health. Most importantly, úderníci usually did not perform any minor tasks mandated by the job standards they were supposed to follow. These tasks were performed by other workers, yet this work counted towards the úderník's quota. Notable udarniks from Czechoslovakia include Lumír Sakmar.
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