Union leader Bob Crow has died at the age of 52. The unexpected death was announced by the Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers Union this morning. The general secretary reportedly suffered a fatal heart attack early Tuesday morning. Although there are few details, Crow reportedly cancelled an appearance on Monday as he was not feeling well.
In their statement, the RMT announced that union offices will be closed for the remainder of the day. They said further updates will be provided "in due course." However, they have asked the media to respect the family's privacy during "this difficult and distressing time."
Although he certainly made enemies during his career, Bob Crow was known as a hero who worked tirelessly to protect the rights of the working class.
Crow began working on the underground at the age of 16. At the age of 19, he became familiar with the union, as he sought their support in a dispute with his supervisor. As reported by The Guardian, Crow was impressed with the support he received from the organization.
Throughout the 1980s, Crow became an active member of the National Union of Railwaymen. Although the union eventually merged with the Seamen's union to become the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union, Crow remained actively involved in the organization.
In 2002, Bob Crow was elected as the RMT's general secretary. Although he was well-respected for his dedication to the organization and union workers, the election was not without controversy. Weeks before he took office, Crow was assaulted at his home with an iron bar.
Although he earned the respect of union workers and the RMT, employers and public figures often criticized Crow's unwavering commitment. The Mirror reports that "bosses ran scared when Bob was on the war path and for good reason - he was on the side of justice for the defenseless, low-paid or bullied worker."
In a touching tribute, journalist Mark Ellis described Crow as "much more than a union firebrand - he had the skin of a rhinoceros, but a heart of gold." He explains that "Bob was a tireless champion of workers' rights and avowed enemy of the scourge of low pay. He won some of the biggest pay rises for those doing the dirtiest and lowest paid jobs in Britain... "
Bob Crow will be sadly missed by his family, friends, associates, and the community. He was a strong and respected leader, who was not afraid to fight for the rights of others.
[Image via Independent]