Pierburg: Ihr Kampf ist unser Kampf
Edith Schmidt-Marcello, David Wittenberg
»Does the Pierburg company actually still have serfs working there?«
Voice-over quote from the film
13 August 1973: Despite the arduous piecework they perform, women migrant workers at Neuss-based carburettor manufacturer Pierburg are in the lowest wage group 2 (DM 4.70 per hour): so, the women start a five-day »wildcat strike«. Out of all 3,800 employees, 70 percent are guest workers, the majority of them women. The women migrant workers demonstrate against the difference in pay between men and women, demanding »one more Mark«, and call for better general living and working conditions. Gradually, their German colleagues join in, and the atmosphere at the Pierburg site at times becomes a festive one. Things have to wait until it becomes clear that the strikers are paralysing the whole German automotive industry for serious negotiations to take place between the workforce and factory management: low-income wage group 2 is then abolished and wages increased.
The compilation film documents the strike. In consultation with the strikers, film-makers Edith Schmidt-Marcello and David H. Wittenberg assembled the material, filmed by various people who experienced the strike first-hand, and supplemented it with their own film footage. The film was shown at numerous solidarity events and was the public relations vehicle for the workers and the works council. It was never shown on television and was initially forgotten.
Edith Schmidt-Marcello, born in 1937, studied painting and film, and since 1976 has been a documentary film-maker. Her specialist fields are labour migration, the women’s movement, labour disputes and social movements. She was a member of the selection committee for the Duisburger Film Week and the AG Dokumentarfilm association, as well as a member of the executive board at Filmbüro Hessen and of the Filmbewertung der Länder’s (film rating body) expert committee. Schmidt-Marcello lives and works in Frankfurt am Main.
David H. Wittenberg, born in 1940, grew up in Vienna. He studied philosophy and literature, and lives and works in Cologne as a director and filmmaker. Between 1967 and 2010, Wittenberg produced around 70 television documentary programmes on cultural, political and literary topics for ZDF, WDR, arte and 3sat.