Consulting

I have consulted trade unions both in Germany (ver.di, IG Metall) and Britain (Unison) in following areas: – membership development and engagement – organizing drives – industrial disputes I’ve also worked as an independent researcher for a Trades Union Congress (TUC) Project.

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Talks

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Academic Presentations

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Teaching

Taught Courses I have taught and lectured in following undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Queen Mary University of London, School of Business and Management Comparative Employment Relations (PGR) Work & Employment in Context (UGR) Employment Relations (UGR)    

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Book Reviews

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Publications

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Academic Writings

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Curriculum Vitae

CV 2017 2018 Teaching Position QM MB by Mark Bergfeld on Scribd

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Public Engagements

Bergfeld, Mark, 20 Nov 2013, Paper Presenter at Generations of Protest: Marxism Matters?, De Montfort University, Title of Paper: The role of anarchists in Occupy Bergfeld, Mark, 14 Nov 2013, Panelist at Essex Radical Conference, University of Essex, Social Movements and Activism Today Bergfeld, Mark, 3 Nov 2012, Paper presenter at ‘Our universities are not […]

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Public Sociology

2017 Willkommenskultur durch Arbeitsmarktintegration? Ansatzpunkte gewerkschaftlicher Arbeit mit Geflüchteten, labournet Germany & express – Zeitung für sozialistische Betriebs- und Gewerkschaftsarbeit (September 2017)  2016   2015   2014 Bergfeld, Mark, 11 Jan 2014, Beyond the Hashtags? Gezi Park and the AKP’s Media Power, ROAR Magazine Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, Regime Crisis in Turkey, Counterfire  Bergfeld, Mark, […]

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Consulting

I have consulted trade unions both in Germany (ver.di, IG Metall) and Britain (Unison) in following areas:
– membership development and engagement
– organizing drives
– industrial disputes

I’ve also worked as an independent researcher for a Trades Union Congress (TUC) Project.

Talks

Academic Presentations

Teaching

Taught Courses

I have taught and lectured in following undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Queen Mary University of London, School of Business and Management

  • Comparative Employment Relations (PGR)
  • Work & Employment in Context (UGR)
  • Employment Relations (UGR)

 

 

Book Reviews

Publications

Academic Writings

Curriculum Vitae

CV 2017 2018 Teaching Position QM MB by Mark Bergfeld on Scribd

Public Engagements

Bergfeld, Mark, 20 Nov 2013, Paper Presenter at Generations of Protest: Marxism Matters?, De Montfort University, Title of Paper: The role of anarchists in Occupy

Bergfeld, Mark, 14 Nov 2013, Panelist at Essex Radical Conference, University of Essex, Social Movements and Activism Today

Bergfeld, Mark, 3 Nov 2012, Paper presenter at ‘Our universities are not supermarkets’ Conference at SOAS, London. Title of the Paper: Can students strike? Lessons from the Quebec student movement

Bergfeld, Mark, 7 Jul 2012, Paper presenter together with Hossam El-Hamalawy at Marxism Conference at UCL, London. Title of Paper: Revolution 2.0? Social movements and Social Media

Bergfeld, Mark, 22 Jun 2012, Speaker, ND-Haus, Was ist ziviler Ungehorsam?, Marx‘ is Muss-Kongress, organised by Marx21 (Die Linke)

Bergfeld, Mark, 15 Jun 2012, Paper presenter at For a Public University! Conference at Nottingham University Title of Paper: Neoliberal universities, neoliberal students? – Rediscovering the subjectivity of students

Bergfeld, Mark, 23 May 2012, Crisis & Resistance in Europe: How can the 99% win?, Augustine United Church, Edinburgh

Bergfeld, Mark, 6 Apr 2012, Discussant, with Sukant Chandan, What’s really behind Syria’s uprising, Shia Ithna’ashari Community of Middlesex (SICM)

Bergfeld, Mark, 11 Dec 2011, Discussant with Andrej Hunko MdB, Nicole Gohlke MdB, Haris Triandafilidou SYRIZA, „Krise und Protest in Europa. Ein Erfahrungsaustausch”, Studierendenkonferenz der Fraktion DIE LINKE. im Bundestag, Berlin

Bergfeld, Mark, Nov 2011, Discussant with Vegard Velle from Norwegian TUC, After Breivik: The fight against fascism in Europe, Marxisme, Copenhagen, Denmark

Bergfeld, Mark, 6 Oct 2011, Panelist with Owen Jones, Laurie Penny, Alan Whitaker UCU, Education Against Austerity, London School of Economics Students’ Union, London

Bergfeld, Mark 1 Oct, 2011, Panelist with French, Greek and Spanish student activists, Coalition of Resistance Conference ‘Europe Against Austerity, Camden Centre, London

Bergfeld, Mark 22 Jun 2011, Panelist with Mark Serwotka, John McDonnell MP, Unite the Resistance Meeting, Friends Meeting House, London

Bergfeld, Mark, 22 May 2011, Panelist with Tony Kearns Vice-President CWU, Communication Workers Union Congress, Meeting ‘Stop the Cuts’, BIC Bournemouth

Bergfeld, Mark, 12 May 2011, Paper presenter at Euro-Mediterranean conference ‘Rivolta di una generazione’ at Political Science, Faculty at La Sapienza, Rome, Italy Title of paper: Yearning for autonomy?  – Global youth revolts in context

Bergfeld, Mark, 29 Apr 2011, Panelist with Len McLuskey, George Galloway, Rally to Defend the Right to Protest, Strathclyde University, Glasgow

Bergfeld, Mark, 12 Feb 2011, Panelist with Michael Chessum (NCAFC), A people’s convention to build resistance to cuts and austerity, Right to Work Campaign, Friends Meeting House, London

Bergfeld, Mark, Dec 2010, Speaker, Solidarity with the Student movement, RMT Union Underground Engineering branch, London

Bergfeld, Mark, 15 Nov 2010, Main speaker,Where next after the national demo?, Education Activist Network, King’s College London.

Bergfeld, Mark, Nov 2010, Speaker, Solidarity with the Student movement, Financial Times, NUJ Chapel, London

Bergfeld, Mark, 31 Oct 2010, Panelist with John McDonnell MP: Time to Fight for Education, London Region UCU

Bergfeld, Mark, 15 May 2010, Panelist with Owen Holland (Sussex University), Stop the Cuts – Defend Jobs and Education, Steve Biko Building, University of Manchester

Bergfeld, Mark, 28 Oct 2008, Main Speaker: Another Education Is Possible Conference, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Public Sociology

2017

Willkommenskultur durch Arbeitsmarktintegration? Ansatzpunkte gewerkschaftlicher Arbeit mit Geflüchteten, labournet Germany & express – Zeitung für sozialistische Betriebs- und Gewerkschaftsarbeit (September 2017) 

2016

 

2015

 

2014

Bergfeld, Mark, 11 Jan 2014, Beyond the Hashtags? Gezi Park and the AKP’s Media Power, ROAR Magazine

Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, Regime Crisis in Turkey, Counterfire 

Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, Tot pot canviar un dia d’any nou…, En Lluita (Catalan)

Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, The world according to Merkel, Al-Jazeera English

2013

Bergfeld, Mark, Sep 2013, The Many Faces of Frau Merkel, Al-Jazeera English 

Bergfeld, Mark, July 2013, ¿Por qué Marx tenía razón, GRUNDmagazine #4

Bergfeld, Mark, July 2013, The Pop-Up Union at Sussex: Start with Solidarity, Socialist Review

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Brasilien: Die Bewegung ist ein Schlachtfeld, Neues Deutschland, 28/06/2013

Bergfeld, Mark, June 2013, A Brazilian Autumn? An Interview with Miguel Borba de Sa, Jacobin Magazine

–          Translated into Spanish by José for GRUNDmagazine

–          Translation into Norwegian by Joakim Møllersen for Radikal Portal

–          Featured on Salon.com, Left Unity, Socialist Worker (US)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, How #OccupyGezi could transform society, New Statesman

–          Translated into Norwegian by Helle Håkonsen for Radikal Portal

–          Featured on Pluto Press

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Food Fights Against Austerity, Climate & Capitalism Journal,

–          Translated into German by Rosenrot for DieFreiheitsliebe.de

–          Translated into Norwegian by Hallgeir Opdal  for Radikal Portal and Ni Tyd (print only)

–          Translated into Spanish by José for GRUNDmagazine

–          Translated into Greek by George Venizelos (forthcoming)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Interview with Dan Swain: Marx’s Theory of Alienation, Socialist Project (Canada),

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Interview with Francisco Louҫa, leading member of Bloco and Economist, Monthly Review Zine

–          Translated into Italian by Giuseppe Volpe for Z Net Italia

–          Translated into Spanish by Viento Sur

–          Translated into French by Presse-Toi A Gauche

–          Featured in International Viewpoint IV461, Socialist Worker (US)

Bergfeld, Mark, 22 May 2013, Der Anfang einer Krise des Regimes, Neues Deutschland

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, New struggles, New unions? On the Pop-Up Union at Sussex University, Ceasefire Magazine,

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Portugal: I Prefer The Horses In My Lasagne To The Donkeys In The Government, Monthly Review Zine

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Portugal: Police Batons for Protesters and Rubber Bullets for the Kids of Bela Vista, Monthly Review Zine

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Victory for Quebec students! Lessons from a strike, Adbusters Online

Bergfeld, Mark, Dec 2012, Crisis and Resistance in Portugal, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12165

–          Featured on RC44 – Research Committee on Labour Movements, Socialist Project (Canada), Global Research (Canada), Left Unity, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Portugal: When ‘good students’ turn sour, Trade Union and Global Restructuring, source: http://andreasbieler.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/portugal-when-good-students-turn-sour.html (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Occupy: How Do You Build A Movement?, The Occupied Times London, source: http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=6448 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Germany: The Rise of The Pirate Party, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12051 (accessed 13/06/2013)

–          Translated into Dutch by Socialisme.nu

http://socialisme.nu/blog/nieuws/29967/hoe-rebels-is-de-duitse-piratenpartij/

 

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, From Quebec to London: Is Student Power on the Rise?, The Occupied Times London, source:  http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=5945 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, New Battles in Higher Education, The Occupied Times London, source: http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=3099 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Education Demolition, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11440 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, „The Birth of the Climate Justice Movement”, The Essex Graduate Journal of Sociology, Vol.10, source: http://www.essex.ac.uk/sociology/documents/pdf/graduate_journal/10-11/the_essex_graduate_journal_of_sociology_2010.pdf (accessed 13/06/2013)

 

 

Reviews

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013 (forthcoming), Ed. Laura Khatib – We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy & Graeber, David – The Democracy Project, Contention Journal

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013 (forthcoming), Book review: Luis Suarez-Villa-Technocapitalism: A Critical Perspective on Technological Innovation and Corporatism, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013 (forthcoming), Alice Mattoni- Media Practice and Protest Politics: How Precarious Workers Mobilise, Interface Journal

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Shelley Streebey – Radical Sensations: World Movements, Violence and Visual Culture, Left Eye On Books

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Book review: Richard Wolff – Democracy at Work: The Cure for Capitalism, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12252 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Book review: Campbell Jones – Can the Market Speak, Berlin Review of Books, source: http://berlinbooks.org/brb/2013/04/can-the-market-speak/ (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Book review: Eds. Sasha Lilley – Catastrophism, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12202 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Book review: Eds. Tad Tietze & Elizabeth Humphreys – On Utoya, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12007 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Book Review: Stefan Collini – What Are Universities For?, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11972 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2011, Book Review: Lucio Magri – The Tailor of Ulm: A Possible History of Communism in the Twentieth Century by Lucio Magri, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11847

Bergfeld, Mark, 2011, Book review: Lars T Lih – Lenin (Critical Lives series), Marx & Philosophy Review of Books, source: http://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/reviews/2012/602 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Film Review: No Impact Man, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11390 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Book Review: Meszaros, Istvan – The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time, International Socialism Journal 125, source: http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=628 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Book Review: Derek Wall – The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11454 (accessed 13/06/2013)

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Start with Solidarity – The Pop-Up Union at Sussex

Start with Solidarity – The Pop-Up Union at Sussex

July 2013

This article was first published in Socialist Review It’s a response to Sandy Nicoll’s article which rebutted my argument in Ceasefire Magazine. Here I argue that the starting points needs to be solidarity. 

In recent months there have been major developments at Sussex University. Two of the main unions on campus (UCU and Unite) held consultative ballots, forcing the third union Unison into a corner. In a rigorous three-page questionnaire more than 85 percent of Unison members ticked the box calling for industrial action. And yet, there is no intention of going on strike.

In the meantime the “Pop-Up Union’s” successful ballot for strike action was legally challenged by university management. Nevertheless the members of the Pop-up union have vowed to vote for strike action – once again. Despite these hiccups the Vice-Chancellor’s privatisation plans have been put on ice. For now the tireless campaigning by activists (campaigning we should commend) has paid off. The battle will resume in the autumn. Socialists should start by recognising this.

However Sandy Nicoll’s article from last month did not begin from a perspective of solidarity with workers in struggle. Instead it made broad sweeping generalisations about Sussex, rather than engaging with the complex reality on the ground. If Marxism is a guide to action, last months article is a guide to abstentionism.

Unanswered questions

It doesn’t answer crucial questions which socialist activists and trade unionists might have: Should Unison members cross the picket line when the Pop-Up goes on strike, for example? I was surprised by the tone of Sandy’s article, simply because I know he regularly assists trade unionists with practical advice and understands the nuances of the different struggles where he is. Just recently he has helped a victimised Pret A Manger worker, who had set up the “Pret A Manger Staff Union” (PAMSU) alongside 20 of his colleagues.

Sandy conflates two different struggles. The Senate House cleaners in London formed an independent “red union” after being quashed by the Unison bureaucracy. In doing so, they unfortunately separated themselves off from the rest of the workforce. While clerical staff are organised in Unison and are recognised by their employers, cleaners are left to their own devices. This strategy just re-enforces the existing divisions between low-paid precarious workers and white-collar workers. But we can’t mistake cause with effect – the blame lies with Unison, not with the cleaners.

The Pop-Up Union in Sussex is a different matter altogether. It brings together trade unionists and previously non-organised workers within the university.

Our starting point has to be the self-activity of workers from below. In Britain, we have two problems: the bureaucracy will not fight and the rank-and-file is not confident enough to fight independently on its own. Rank and file workers at Sussex University set up the Pop-Up Union to navigate these waters. Labelling this a “short cut” doesn’t answer what our relationship with it ought to be. If a so-called short cut works in practice why engage in the endless labour of Sisyphus? Just so one can claim the stone has rolled back once again?

The workers at Sussex University are unlike the construction workers and electricians who fought a heroic battle against multinationals. There remains a tradition of militancy inside the construction industry. Older socialist militants – often victimised for trade union work – provided younger Sparks with the confidence, leadership and tools to fight back. This is not the case at Sussex, or at most universities for that matter. Many of the most experienced and seasoned activists are young worker militants who came through the anti-capitalist, anti-war movement and the more recent student struggles of 2010. The question is whether trade unions such as Unison are able to integrate the political experiences of the class into its union. The battle at Sussex University shows that it was not.

Some argue that the Pop-Up is hostile to trade unions. During the recent Brighton bin workers strike in Brighton the Pop-Up delivered daily solidarity to strikers. When the Pop-Up organised a fundraiser and rally on the university campus GMB members came and addressed the meeting. The Pop-Up union is reinvigorating the Unison branch and putting the movement back into Brighton’s trade unions. Of course, there will be tensions with the local Unison branch committee. But which SWP activist in Unison has not ever had tensions with the local branch committee?

Of course, the Pop-Up Union contains problems. Socialists shouldn’t deny this. Yet we ought to stand in support when rank and file workers develop novel forms of organisation which broaden the scope of their struggle. The worst would be to idealise the Pop-Up, but that is far from what I am doing.

Idealism

Last months article, on the other hand, reeked of idealism as it claimed to know best in advance of actual struggle. We have to deal with the Pop-Up Union constructively, rather than simply dismissing it and cutting ourselves off from having any influence over its political direction.

I was surprised that Sandy uses a quarter of his article to attack the notion of “Zombie branches”, a term that I learnt from him in the first place! But I don’t regret using the term. In fact, after recently reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein I am all the more adamant about it. Zombies are the victims of the barbaric nature of capitalism, but they are also deeply human. While Frankenstein’s Monster learnt to read revolutionary literature in his day, today’s Zombie films end in revolts. I think we can all agree that such a revolt is needed more than ever.

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