Radu Tabără


Jan. 22, 2024

Republica Populară Română
serviciul militar obligatoriu
Direcţia Generală a Serviciului Muncii (DGSM)
Serviciul Muncii



– was established in January 1950, in order to use the labor force of the youth that were surplus to the conscription requirements of the Ministry of Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior. The term of service was equal to that in the army, as the years spent in the Labor Service were considered equivalent to the compulsory military service. Between January 1950 and January 1956, the institution functioned under the Ministry of Construction, and after this date it was transferred under the direct authority of the Council of Ministers (where it remained until it was disbanded in 1961). Between 1950 and 1961, 520,000 of conscripts were incorporated into the Labor Service, that is, 20% of young people completed their military training in this structure. Its annual strength varied significantly over time and even within the same year, with the maximum number being reached between 1951 and 1955, when it had more than 100,000 conscripts. Later their number began to decrease gradually. The troops of the Labor Service were involved in numerous activities and economic fields, such as construction sites, in factories, as workers, in coal extraction, agriculture and water improvement works, wood processing, operation of ports, execution of defense works, etc. The Labor Service was a service provider that provided labor for a fee, its objective being to cover its operating costs and make a profit (which was paid to the state budget). Its impact on the Romanian economy during the 11 years it existed is difficult to assess, due to a number of factors, such as the lack of interest of the DGSM in these details, its main concern being to cover its operating costs and obtain a profit. From this point of view it was as efficient as possible, being financially self-supporting and making a profit every year. Nor were the beneficiaries interested in separately quantifying the contribution of military construction workers compared to that of civilian workers, their work being reported globally. There were even cases when the activity performed by the DGSM staff was appropriated by civilian workers with the agreement of the management of the enterprises, interested only in reporting increases of production. There is no doubt that its impact was felt at the level of the national economy, being an important help during the transition to the planned economy and industrialization of the country. This aspect is worthy of consideration if we consider the multitude of problems the institution faced, such as major staff variations, frequent and massive movements of staff from one site to another, the unpredictability of work, as well as the continued prospect of disbandment. At the same time, it is equally clear that its potential has not been fully exploited, a large part of it being wasted through the inefficient use of its forces in highly fragmented units, or through poor planning of the needs (e.g. the request for a larger number of soldiers than what was really needed). Also, in part its existence represented a problem on the attraction of civilian workers by enterprises, which preferred to use the military of the Labor Service, which were much cheaper in terms of costs and for which there was no need to improve living and working conditions (e.g. in the field of coal mining, after they came to represent even 70% of the miners in 1954–1955, the DGSM soldiers were completely withdrawn from this sector by mid–1958).