Putin launches Soviet-style `best welder` contest

Putin has returned to other Soviet-era practices, such as rewarding mothers for having more than one child.

Moscow: President-elect Vladimir Putin on Thursday
announced a contest with cash prizes for Russia`s best welder,
stone mason, electrician and miner, echoing Soviet attempts at
motivating workers.

"Five nominations have been confirmed: best welder, best
stone mason, best miner, best electrician and best heavy
vehicle driver," Putin, currently prime minister, told a
cabinet meeting.

The first-place winner will receive USD 10,170, while the
second-place prize would be USD 6,800 and the third prize USD
3,400, he said.

The ministry of health and social development "has now
started selecting candidates," he added, with the final
results to be announced in October.

Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova
told Putin that such was the enthusiasm for the idea that
several large mining and metallurgy corporations had agreed to
pay for prizes in other nominations.

The ministry said workers would first be selected at the
regional level through the authorities, trade unions and
groups of major employers.

The idea of the government rewarding the best workers is
reminiscent of the Soviet Union, when outstanding workers
received cash bonuses and had their photographs displayed on
special honours boards.

The most famous Soviet overachiever was Alexei Stakhanov,
who in 1935 set a record for coal extraction.

Workers were encouraged to emulate his ways and become
Stakhanovites, although less high-achieving workers were
hostile to those who exposed their slacking by achieving high
production rates.

Putin has returned to other Soviet-era practices, such as
rewarding mothers for having more than one child. They now
receive a cash payment and those with particularly large
families receive medals.

PTI