Bob Crow obituary: A working class hero who never shirked from industrial action
Tuesday 11 March 2014
Bob Crow, the left-wing leader of the country's biggest rail union, was never one to shirk from taking industrial action, always fighting for the rights of his members.
The 52-year-old working-class hero was at the centre of Tube strikes which brought chaos to London last month in protest at the closure of ticket offices.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union chief, who took up his role in 2002, had a picture of his beloved Millwall Football Club on the wall of his office near Euston station.
Born in east London, Crow moved to Essex as a toddler and attended the same secondary modern school as Spurs soccer star Jimmy Greaves.
He left school at the age of 16 and worked on the railways for the rest of his life.
His first job was on London Underground as an apprentice track worker, although he soon became involved in union activity, becoming a local representative for the then National Union of Railwaymen at the age of 20.
By then he had already been given the union's youth award - handed to him by veteran general secretary Jimmy Knapp - and was soon to rise through the ranks, via the executive, to the top job.
His formative years were at a time when unions enjoyed huge power and influence over the country, thanks to leaders such as Jack Jones, Hugh Scanlon and Joe Gormley.
Former TUC general secretary Len Murray used to live close to Mr Crow's workplace and often stopped for a chat with Tube workers.
"These people were household names and they enjoyed huge respect," he said.
"Starting my career with these people in charge of unions, and working in a nationalised industry with people who had put in 30 or even 40 years of service helped shape my views.
"We also had compulsory trade union membership in those days so virtually everyone was in a union."
He took part in a nationwide day of action in 1980 ordered by the TUC, and the next strike he joined was on the Tube - a day after returning from his honeymoon in 1982.
After that he took part in, or helped organise, official and unofficial strikes against London Underground and was clear about the need to take action to improve pay and conditions.
"I don't shirk from taking industrial action. Our job is to negotiate the best pay and conditions. Industrial action is the last resort and you don't take it lightly - but when you start you don't finish until you have won. That's what I have been brought up on."
Mr Crow maintained he wanted to do the "very best" for his members, wherever they worked and whichever political party they belonged to.
"I will be the captain, steering the ship, but the members will make all the decisions."
Although not a member of any political party, Mr Crow used to belong to the Communist Party of Great Britain and was strongly critical of many of New Labour's policies, describing them as "near enough identical" to those of the Tories.
Apart from his obsession with Millwall - he had been watching the team since his father took him to the ground as a youngster - Mr Crow had a surprising interest outside his job.
"I'm really interested in the weather," he confessed. "I spend ages looking at weather maps and graphs. I have a barometer in the house and if I could have been anything else other than a union official I would have been a footballer - or a weatherman."
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall during coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
UK weather: Snow to fall during coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Ellen DeGeneres leads Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany in revealing game of Never Have I Ever
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...