Bob Crow dead at 52, confirms RMT union

Union leader Bob Crow, who led several high-profile strikes, died this morning after a 'massive heart attack'

LAST UPDATED AT 15:20 ON Tue 11 Mar 2014

BOB CROW, leader of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and scourge of London's transport bosses, has died aged 52. 

His death was announced this morning by the union that he had led since for the past 12 years.

"It is with the deepest regret that RMT has to confirm that our general secretary Bob Crow sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning," the union said in a statement. "The union's offices will be closed for the rest of the day and the union will make further announcements in due course. The media have been asked to respect the privacy of Bob's friends and family at this difficult and distressing time."

Steve Hawkes, deputy political editor of The Sun, reported: "Crow died at Whipps Hospital, Leytonstone after a massive heart attack. Medics spent an hour trying to save his life."

Crow was a high-profile and combative public figure at a time when many union leaders had faded into the background. He was born in Shadwell, East London, and left school at 16 to take a job fixing rails on the Tube. Having risen through the ranks, he became general secretary of the RMT in 2002.

His most recent run-in with transport bosses came last month, when he led Tube workers out on strike in protest against plans to close ticket offices across the Tube network.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said he was shocked by Crow's death. "Whatever our political differences, and there were many, this is tragic news," he said in a statement. 

Ed Miliband echoed Johnson's line, expressing personal warmth while maintaining a political distance. 

"Bob Crow was a major figure in the labour movement and was loved and deeply respected by his members," the Labour leader said.

"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."

The former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, praised Crow's political achievements too.

"He fought really hard for his members," Livingstone told Sky News. "The only working-class people who still have well-paid jobs in London are his members. I assumed he would be at my funeral, not me at his."

Billy Hayes of the Communication Workers' Union described Crow as "a great leader he will missed by workers of the world", while the Public and Commercial Services Union said his death would be a "devastating loss to the movement".
 

Bob Crow in his own words

Never shy of expressing an opinion, Bob Crow had a colourful turn of phrase - and a wide range of opponents against which to deploy it. 

On Margaret Thatcher: “I won't shed one single tear over her death. She destroyed the NHS and destroyed industry in this country and as far as I’m concerned she can rot in hell.”

On the euro: "They say I want to see the Queen's head on a fiver. The Queen's head? I don't care if it's the Queen's arse... The euro is still undemocratic."

On his stockbroker brother: "I hate him much more for supporting Arsenal".

On going on holiday before last month's tube strike: “What do you want me to do, sit under a tree and read books of Karl Marx every day?”

On Tony Benn's aristocratic background: “Just because you go to the Virgin Islands it doesn’t make you a virgin does it?”

Oh political parties: "The only parties I'm really interested in now are garden parties."

On strikes: "I'm not one of those union officials who continually say they regret the inconvenience caused by industrial action. People would say I was crying crocodile tears."

On his union’s campaign techniques: "We didn't do it with balloons, we didn't do it by being nicey-picey, hoping they will feel sorry for us and take pity on us. We did it by threatening industrial action."

On robots:  "They say the only way that we can compete now with China is making robots build cars. Now, that might be cheaper, but if you have robots build cars, how are robots going to buy them?”

On living in a council house: "I was born in a council house, as far as I’m concerned I will die in one.”

 

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