An udarnik (Russian: уда́рник, IPA: [ʊˈdarnʲɪk]; English plural udarniks or udarniki), also known in English as a shock worker or strike worker (collectively known as shock brigades or a shock labour team) 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".
In the Soviet Union, the term was linked to Shock worker of Communist Labour (Ударник коммунистического труда), a Soviet honorary title, as well as Alexey Stakhanov and the movement named after him. However, the terminology of shock workers has also been used in other socialist 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.
In People's Republic of Poland a similar title was przodownik pracy (translated into English as "model worker"), a calque from another Soviet/Russian term peredovik proizvodstva, literally "leader in production", which was also a formal title of merit. Seen as the Polish version of the Stakhanovite movement, famous Polish workers given the title of przodownik pracy included Piotr Ożański and especially the "Polish Stakhanov" Wincenty Pstrowski, a miner who in 1947 achieved 270 percent expected efficiency per month. Later Pstrowski died due to misconducted dental intervention, but in popular opinion (and official propaganda), it was due to deadly exhaustion.
After 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 Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, an udarnik was called úderník (with slightly different pronunciation in the Czech and Slovak languages). 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 of the order of several hundred percent, 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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