A good friend and colleague - Birgit Pätzold - wrote some facts about me,
quasi a resume in text form.
Ralph Lenkert was born on May 9, 1967 in Apolda and grew up as a "Zeissian" child in Jena. After the very good completion of the 10th grade, he decided to do an apprenticeship as a toolmaker at Carl Zeiss Jena, which he also completed with the best results. Until 1991 he worked in fixture and functional model construction at Carl Zeiss, only interrupted by the 18-month military service. In his free time he worked as a volunteer in the student club "Schmiede" ("Smithy"), where he also met his future wife. A year after the wedding, the first son was born in 1988.
After the reunification, Ralph Lenkert, like many others, was put on hold with "short-time work zero", now at Jenoptik. He didn't want to wait and switched to Günther, a supplier for high-precision mechanics, after just one month. There he worked until 1996 in a two-shift system as a toolmaker and programmer for CNC machines. In 1991 he started a distance learning course as a technician for mechanical engineering. In the difficult 90s, the additional qualification in Jena did not help him, so he became a day commuter.
From 1996 he worked at the Weißensee plant of the North Rhine-Westphalian company Mubea as deputy head of sample production for car axle springs. When a new factory was set up in the Czech Republic in 1999, he took over the development of the quality system there for two and a half years. Despite his success, Ralph Lenkert was looking for an alternative in his home country, because working abroad put a strain on family life. In the long run, he did not want to burden his wife with the responsibility for the household and children - the second son was born in 1997 - not alone.
In 2002, the technician, now experienced abroad and in management, had the opportunity to return to Carl Zeiss Jena as a technologist. The “digital projection” area grew steadily and - atypical for Zeiss - built up mass production for the first time. The success story ended abruptly when the management decided to save labor costs and move production to China. Against his conviction, Ralph Lenkert had to move jobs from Jena to Suzhou and put new products into series production in the Chinese plant.
This work showed him how important education is for living standards - also at home. A worker in Suzhou earns 5% of the wages of a Jena worker. With a master it is 25%. A good Chinese engineer already earns 60% of the Jena engineer salary, beyond that there are no noteworthy differences. German industry is therefore outsourcing jobs for unskilled workers, but the enormous relocation costs are hardly worthwhile for skilled workers.
Assertiveness and commitment proved Ralph Lenkert as deputy chairman of the works council of Sypro Optics GmbH, which has meanwhile been spun off from Zeiss.
From these personal experiences, the cuts made by the Thuringian CDU in the educational sector, especially in the kindergartens, had an effect on Ralph Lenkert like an attack on the future of his homeland. After the CDU announced its educational concept 2-16, he gave up his critical passivity and began to take action and to fight for his conviction with democratic means. Because of the "Family Offensive" of the CDU in 2005, he was therefore one of the initiators of the referendum "For a better family policy", which he represented as spokesman.
The referendum was successful in 2010. Direct democracy in practice can force improvements, as the citizens of Thuringia have demonstrated. More than 61,000 signatures were collected, almost a third of them in Ralph Lenkert's constituency!
One of the most active supporters of the referendum was DIE LINKE, whose Thuringian state association nominated Ralph Lenkert in 2009 as non-party for the election to the German Bundestag - number 1 on the state list. He won the direct mandate in his constituency Gera - Jena - Saale-Holzland-Kreis.
He had committed himself to family and education policies and direct democracy, but the parliamentary group urgently needed an environmental politician. So Ralph Lenkert became its chairman on the Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and also worked on the Parliamentary Advisory Board on Sustainable Development.
In January 2011 he became a member of DIE LINKE. He himself said: “I was actively involved in the party's“ Erfurt program ”. I also stand by a program that I am working on! That's why I became a member of the LEFT party.”
In addition to successful parliamentary work - only the raising of the noise limit for children's play noise in the Federal Immission Control Act should be mentioned here - Ralph Lenkert also regularly participates in extra-parliamentary initiatives. In the Wendland, he fought with thousands of Castor blockers against the planned nuclear waste repository in Gorleben, in Dresden and in his constituency, stood in the way of Nazis and, as a member of the Bundestag, always helped when mediation between the police and demonstrators was necessary.
In 2013 and 2017, Ralph Lenkert again moved to the German Bundestag via the LEFT party's state list, where he continues his work as a member of the Committee on the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. One of his most important projects in this committee is the fight for the ban on the flammable and highly toxic refrigerant R1234yf, which the EU has decided to use in cars. He also has been a member of the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment from 2013 to 2017.
Detailed information on this and many other aspects of Ralph Lenkert's work in the Bundestag and constituency can be found here on his homepage.