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The Example of Sket (December 21, 1992)

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But Sket is a political issue. As the example of the shipyards in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has shown, demonstrating workers can topple minister presidents. At the angry shop-floor meeting, Minister of Economics Rehberger also chose to oppose Marx: “This concept is not acceptable in this form.”

The “anti-Marxist” sentiment in Magdeburg was threatening to turn into a new class struggle. “Down with Wessism,” read a slogan at the site where Meister Proper used to stand. More than 2,200 Sket employees called for the resignation of the new manager in a petition drive carried out under the motto: “One Marx was enough!!!”

It became a victory for the workers: one evening Marx was gone. He took his leave in the middle of a meeting at the Magdeburg Ministry of Economics, departing because of an appointment with Rehberger’s colleague in Bonn, Jürgen Möllemann. Shortly thereafter, at the beginning of the week before last, the man from the West resigned his offices, enervated.

A few days later, the works council, the government of the federal state [of Saxony-Anhalt], the Treuhand, and the remaining three Sket boards agreed on a new restructuring concept. Two thousand-seven hundred jobs are to be preserved in Magdeburg over the long run. That is still more than 1,000 employees above what Hero Brahms, vice-chief of the Treuhand, thinks is actually “appropriate and realistic.”

For no one is able to say where additional orders are supposed to come from. The only thing that’s clear is that Sket will cost the Treuhand a lot more money yet. “But with money,” Brahms knows, “you cannot create markets.”

The costly industrial core will occupy the Treuhand for a long time. “We have not found a single party interested in the core business,” laments supervisory board member Kosegarten.

So far, only Meister Proper has a place with a secure future: he is going into the Magdeburg Museum of Industry, plans for which are underway.

Source: “Down with Wessism” [“Weg mit dem Wessismus”], Der Spiegel, December 21, 1992, pp. 104-12.

Translator: Thomas Dunlap

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