A time witness report written by Mr. Wolfgang Becker (Germany)


For more than 40 years the author had been working as an employee, company director and CEO in the traditional machine tool factory "UNION" in Chemnitz. This company has existed for more than 160 years.

The author reports on his experiences on saving the company after the privatization in 1990.

The machine tools of the brand "UNION" had established themselves well on the world market until 1989.

In 1990 the company was privatized after the political change.The first owner was the "Treuhananstalt Berlin".

The company was sold in 1991 to the "SCHIESS AG Düsseldorf" and the "KLÖCKNER & Co.AG Duisburg".
The turnover developed negatively. The reason was the collapse of the markets in the former socialist countries and the bankrupt of the GDR foreign trade company "WMW-Export". 700 of the 900 employees were laid off.



The plant in Chemnitz had to be closed in 1992. Employees prevented the closure by a permanent occupation.
Due to several insolvencies of the owner companies "SCHIESS AG" and "DÖRRIES-SCHARMANN AG", the company "UNION" must go guiltless into insolvency
in 1996.

At that time the trade union "IG Metall" had the idea to re-establish the company in the form of an “employee company”. A working group was set up under the leadership of Wolfgang Becker.
100 employees were convinced to pay DM 10,000 each from their private assets as starting capital of the new employee company. All these employees were co-owners of the company. But the employees had no guarantee that they would get this capital back. The company has been re-established in September 1996.

The company was saved with the founding of the employee company and worked very successful for 10 years with this ownership form.

The refusal of the banks to give credits only to one company owner lead to the liquidation of the employee company finally in 2009.

The employee-shareholders received approximately 7,500 € (15,000 DM) for their share.

Since June 2011, the "HERCULES GROUP" Waldrich Siegen has been the sole owner of "UNION Chemnitz".