Tributes have been paid from across the poltical spectrum to Bob Crow, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, who died yesterday (11 March) at the age of 52 after reportedly suffering a heart attack.
Crow had led the RMT since 2001 and had gained a reputation as a champion of workers who repeatedly won pay rises for his members.
Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London said: "The only working-class people who still have well-paid jobs in London are his members. With the passage of time, people will come to see that people like Bob Crow did a very good job." The current Mayor, Boris Johnson, described him as "a fighter and a man of character".
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "Bob Crow was a major figure in the labour movement and was loved and deeply respected by his members. He did what he was elected to do, was not afraid of controversy and was always out supporting his members across the country."
Although the RMT under Crow's leadership left the Labour party in 2004, following disagreements on policy, the union continued to send its annual affiliation fee to the party, depite the cheques being returned.
Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, said: "Like many, I will remember him as a passionate voice for safety on the railways and the wellbeing of those who work on them."
Crow was often caricatured in the media – particularly during the recent tube strike and when he led his union in demanding, (and winning), Olympic bonuses for transport workers. However, associates remember him as a shrewd negotiator who knew when to settle and was respected by those he faced over the negotiating table.
Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said:“ Bob was an outstanding trade unionist, who tirelessly fought for his members, his industry and the wider trade union movement.
“He was always a good friend and comrade to me. We will miss him, and our thoughts are with his family and the RMT at this difficult time.”