British trade union general secretary Bob Crow dies at 52

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bob Crow in 2012.
Image: Jarle Vines.

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the United Kingdom's National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers — better known as the RMT — died today aged 52 from a suspected heart attack. Crow is widely known for leading numerous strikes by workers that led to disruption of public transport services in the United Kingdom.

After leaving school at 16, Crow started working on the London Underground fixing railway lines and felling trees. He joined a union shortly afterwards. In 1991, Crow was elected assistant general secretary of the RMT. Following the death of Jimmy Knapp in 2002, he was made general secretary. Under his leadership, the union's membership numbers increased by more than a quarter, to 80,000 workers.

The current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said in a statement: "I'm shocked. Bob Crow was a fighter and a man of character. Whatever our political differences, and there were many, this is tragic news. Bob fought tirelessly for his beliefs and for his members."

The current Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband said in a statement: "Bob Crow was a major figure in the labour movement and was loved and deeply respected by his members. I didn't always agree with him politically but I always respected his tireless commitment to fighting for the men and women in his union. He did what he was elected to do, was not afraid of controversy and was always out supporting his members across the country. He was a passionate defender of and campaigner for safe, affordable public transport and was a lifelong anti-fascist activist."

Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone praised Crow, in a remark to Sky News: "He fought really hard for his members. The only working-class people who still have well-paid jobs in London are his members."