Death of Bob Crow, RMT

11/03/2014  -  4.24

Professor Roger Seifert, Professor of Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT trade union, died at the age of 52 on Tuesday 11 March. All of us who knew him send sincere sympathies to his family and close friends.

He was one of the best known and influential trade union leaders in the UK in the last decade. Under his watch the RMT grew in membership (despite a general trend for union membership to fall in the private sector), became financially robust (when other unions are struggling), and held many high profile and successful campaigns over pay, safety, and job cuts.

He was a major player in the wider trade union and labour movement. His great strength was that he understood his own industrial sectors (mainly rail, bus, and ferries) extremely well from the bottom up.

He was thus able to both encourage his members and activists to believe that they could win struggles against powerful employers, who frequently had the support of the media and political leaders, and force employers to negotiate seriously as they knew that he knew what he was about.

In addition he was totally open and honest in all his dealings. This was often in contrast to some of the employers involved in transport, politicians, and newspaper editors. His persona was that of a man fighting to protect and support his members, first and always.

He did so with great energy, charisma, and intelligence - all with a dash of humour and tactical shrewdness. His left-wing views helped him to secure the loyalty of his members (they knew he would never sell them short) and the respect of a wider audience in the trade union and labour movement.

He showed above all, contrary to the tired conventional wisdom of the day, that you could succeed as an openly proud socialist, as a fierce fighter for trade union rights across the world as well as at home, and as a defender of union members' interests. He will be greatly missed.