Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT union, died early this morning at the age of 52. We are deeply saddened to hear about this loss, and extend our condolences and respect first and foremost to his close friends and family. We also extend our condol …

bob crow

Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT union, died early this morning at the age of 52.

We are deeply saddened to hear about this loss, and extend our condolences and respect first and foremost to his close friends and family.

We also extend our condolences to RMT activists and members, who lost a great and principled leader. While much of the industrial landscape of Great Britain has been decimated by right wing politicians and greedy bosses, the fact that workers in the transport sector still enjoy decent wages and conditions is largely down to Bob.

Bob Crow was portrayed in the media as a militant, an unreconstructed bogeyman from the past. His willingness to stand up for his members was certainly one of the most noticeable things about him, but Bob Crow was more than just a militant: he was a nuanced and principled tactician and class war strategist. He used all his abilities to put people first and resist attempts by corporations to colonise every aspect of modern life.

London is the world headquarters of international finance capital, the destructive force that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Money talks in London, and one of the few forces of any significance to stand in the way of unfettered capitalist accumulation is the RMT members on the London Underground, who under Bob’s leadership prevailed like Spartan warriors against almost unbelievable odds.

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RMT members at a protest against Tory cuts, 26 March 2011

Bob pioneered the model of “fighting back” unionism which is now seeing a resurgence in union activism in the UK. While many other unions faced declining membership and influence, the RMT continued to grow in strength and numbers. This was down to Bob’s courage and determination in standing up to vested interests and putting his members first. Many other unions have taken a leaf from Bob’s book, and there has been a tremendous shift towards the left in the British trade union movement. It’s a shift also that aims to put members first, and make ordinary workers the heart of the union.

In addition to his work at the forefront of the fightback in the union movement, Bob Crow was active politically. He was a strong critic of New Labour and the rightward shift of the party under Tony Blair. At a time when opposition to undemocratic elements of the EU are being exploited by right wing groups like UKIP, Bob lead with a principled socialist critique of the EU by forming the No2EU party. Criticising an EU that enshrines corporate dominance, Bob Crow asserted that workers’ rights need to come first.

Bob Crow was born in East London in 1961. He left school at the age of 16, and began working for London Transport. He quickly became involved in union politics, and within a year he had been elected as a shop steward in the precursor to the RMT. In 2002, Bob Crow was elected General Secretary.

Bow Crow was a working class hero and trade union fighter who dedicated his whole life to the movement. We are poorer for losing him.

Rest in Peace, comrade.

A tribute to Bob Crow at Covent Garden tube station

Bob Crow Tube tribute


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Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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