Bob Crow: Sudden Death Of Union Leader
The general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, Bob Crow, has died at the age of 52 after suffering a suspected heart attack.
Mr Crow was taken to hospital after reportedly complaining of feeling unwell on Monday but died in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The union confirmed his sudden death in a short statement.
There have been tributes from across the political spectrum to a man viewed by some as a working class hero and by others simply as a force for disruption.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who regularly sparred with Mr Crow, said he was a "fighter and a man of character".
"Whatever our political differences, and there were many, this is tragic news," he added.
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Former London mayor Ken Livingstone said Mr Crow's work had a huge influence on young people coming up through the trade union movement and would create a "better generation of trade union leader in the future".
He told Sky News: "He fought really hard for his members. The only working-class people who still have well-paid jobs in London are his members."
Sky News' Political Editor Adam Boulton described Mr Crow as a man of complexity, who dined at Scott's of Mayfair but continued to live in a council house.
"Bob Crow was a man who believed there was nothing too good for the workers and who was very much prepared to fight for it," he said.
"In a sense he was also someone who saw the way the wind was blowing between Labour and the trade unions before many others, taking his union out of affiliation with the Labour party, using its political funds for its own campaigns."
Mr Crow's brother, Richard, told Sky News that he and his brother were "politically totally different" but that he was a great brother to grow up with.
He recounted fondly: "He was an annoying little rascal to me when he was a kid. He would forever be telling me that he would tell my mum and dad the sort of thing that I got up to but he was one of those loveable little rogues."
Mr Crow is understood to have suffered an aneurysm and heart attack and was taken to Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone.
In a brief statement the RMT confirmed the "distressing" death of its leader.
Mr Crow's supporters cast him as a man who fought for his beliefs and credited him with revitalising the RMT, while his detractors highlighted his significant salary and holidays abroad.
Most recently he led a 48-hour Tube strike in protest at the closure of Underground station ticket offices, with the loss of 750 jobs.
He telephoned Mr Johnson to tackle him live on-air during the mayor's LBC radio programme, accusing the politician of refusing to hold talks with him over the threat of industrial action.
East London-born Mr Crow left school at 16 and got a job felling trees and fixing rails on the London Underground.
The Millwall supporter rose through the ranks to become general secretary of the RMT in 2002 and by 2008 the union's membership had swelled from 57,000 to 80,000, making it the fastest-growing in the country.
His refusal to back down and determination to fight for his beliefs soon cemented his standing as a member of the "Awkward Squad" of union leaders.
Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said: "Bob Crow was admired by his members and feared by employers, which is exactly how he liked it.
"It was a privilege to campaign and fight alongside him because he never gave an inch."
Mr Crow, lived in Woodford Green, east London, with his partner Nicola Hoarau, 50. He leaves four children.
Millwall Football Club is expected to include a tribute to Mr Crow in its programme for its game against Charlton on Saturday.
The club said in a statement: "Millwall Football Club would like to extend our condolences to the family of Bob Crow who passed away on Monday night at the age of 52."