We’ve known for a long time, who sits in the conference room: Hannibal Kappes, the owner, and Dr. Geizdorf, his friend, have come together and discuss with Manuel. In any case Hannibal Kappes has introduced Dr. Geizdorf with the words “he is a friend” to Ronja Wulff, the secretary.

“They were rather discourteous”, Ronja reported. “Simply marching in and not telling, who they are.” But Ronja won’t stand for such behaviour. She had insisted on knowing the person in front of her. “Otherwise, anyone could behave like that.”

At noon Franz-Josef comes along. “Manual has phoned me. He has invited the works council to a meeting at 14 o’clock.”

Georg, Franz-Josef and I are contemplating how we will react. It will be important to get as definite a message as possible about the plans. We resolve to smile and say inwardly “cheese”, to pay attention not to fold the arms and to be friendly. And we will ask, ask, ask und request more detailed information. Naturally – whatever they will tell us – we will not be able to give a statement because we will first have to deliberate on that.

At 2 PM we stand in front of the conference room. Manuel is coming out of the door and announces: “They are not ready yet. I will call you again later. OK?”

Of course, it’s OK. After all we are used to that. We march off. We are barely downstairs when Ronja phones us: “They are waiting for you.” So we go upstairs again and this time into the conference room.
We shake hands with Hannibal Kappes, a stout, friendly-looking older man, and Dr. Geizdorf, a tall gaunt and angular man in his late fifties with a tanned leather-like skin and snow-white hairs that is combed lateral over the bald forehead.

Hannibal Kappes states, “I want to apologize about letting you wait.” (Oh, we are not used to such courtesy.) “That was a misunderstanding. We were waiting for you, and as I hear, you waited for us.”

And on he went: “I firstly want to introduce myself. As you perhaps know, I have owned this company since April, and I’m the Chairman of the Supervisory Board too. Mr. Dr. Geizdorf is – now, yes – he is my chief representative. I also want to inform you that after the end of this day Mr. Kaufmann will no longer be a member of this company. We have come to a dissolution agreement with him.”

And then he adds: “I want to ask you for a nondisclosure agreement to prevent that our discussion today winds up in print in tomorrow’s Süddeutsche.”

He doesn’t await our answer (it suits me) and admits his chief representative to the floor.

“Initially I want to introduce me a little: As a CEO of Wurstecher, I have carried out the restructuring of that company. There I became acquainted with Mr. Kappes. I then became a restructuring specialist for the building industry. There I naturally engaged in some fights with the trade union. But as I know that you belong to the IG Metall Union. That’s not so wicked…”

I don’t know, I think, which Metall Union people you delt with. But you are not going to break us very soon. Cheese

“… Firstly I want to congratulate you on your company agreements…” Geizdorf wags some sheets, supposedly the agreements Flexitime, Overtime and Long Range Time Accounts. “I have never seen such agreements, in which the works council could fully execute it’s points to 150 per cent…”

Franz-Josef clears his throat and throws in: “Well, that were not even 100 per cent by far.”

Geizdorf: “… But those are purest IG-Metall agreement prototypes nevertheless. Now then, I hope anyway, that this will change. In the future we should find more compromise solutions.”

Now he slowly gets to the point: “Today, we want to talk with you about the economical situation of the company. To my regret, you don’t have an economic committee because the techno Corporation does not have the required size…”

We can change that. Snap at the chance immediately. “Do you want to have one?”, I ask. “We may construct an economic committee by a voluntary agreement.” Geizdorf most likely does not know what a tartar he will catch with that. Such a committee has rights to claim economical information of the kind that the works council does not have.

“No. We do not need that.”

I see, it was only balderdash. When things get real you chicken out. I’m smiling submissively again.

“… But I did mean”, Geizdorf continues his speech, “that it’s necessary to include the works council in the restructuring of a company at an early stage. Without the works council nothing works…”

He wants to butter us up.

“… If you have a look at the business development, you’ll see that the company suffered a loss of nearly 15 Million Euros. I like more to think in Deutschmarks, so the loss was nearly 30 million Deutschmarks…”

Why do you not calculate in Lira? Then you can talk about a loss of billions.

“… Under normal circumstances one would have to close down the company. The money burned here has been earned by the workers in Augsburg.”

Nightingale, I hear your patter. Do you want to tell us that you would hand over one tired Euro to the Augsburg workers, if our losses had been less, or if we had even made a profit? Do not fold the arms!

Translated from: Marinus Münster, “Dilldöppchen”, Publishing House: Geest-Verlag 2004