Bob Crow, the charismatic leader of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), was not just a union leader but a symbol of working-class strength and resilience. His life story is one of dedication, passion, and unwavering commitment to the rights and well-being of workers. From his humble beginnings to his influential role in shaping British labour politics, Bob Crow’s journey is one of inspiration and significance.

Born on June 13, 1961, in Shadwell, East London, Crow grew up in a working-class family. His upbringing instilled in him a deep understanding of the struggles faced by ordinary people, which would later fuel his activism. He began his career as a railway worker at the age of 16, where he quickly became involved in union activities. This early exposure to the realities of labour issues ignited his passion for advocating for workers’ rights.

Crow’s rise within the RMT was meteoric. His sharp intellect, strong leadership skills, and unyielding dedication to his members earned him respect and admiration. In 2002, he was elected as the General Secretary of the RMT, a position he held until his untimely death on March 11th 2014. Under his leadership, the RMT became one of the most powerful and influential unions in the UK, known for its uncompromising stance on worker’s rights and fair wages.

One of Crow’s defining characteristics was his willingness to stand up to powerful interests, regardless of the consequences. He was not afraid to challenge governments, transport authorities, or private companies if he felt they were compromising the interests of his members. His confrontational style often garnered criticism from some quarters, but to his supporters, it was a sign of his unwavering commitment to the working class.

Crow’s legacy extends far beyond the confines of the labour movement. He was a vocal advocate for social justice, campaigning tirelessly against inequality and injustice in all its forms. He believed that every worker deserved dignity, respect, and a fair share of the wealth they helped create. His advocacy extended beyond the borders of the UK, as he forged alliances with workers’ movements around the world, recognising the global nature of the struggle for workers’ rights.

Beyond his activism, Crow was also a complex and multifaceted individual. He was known for his wit, charm, and larger-than-life personality. Despite his tough exterior, he had a compassionate side, always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. He was a staunch defender of his principles, but he was also pragmatic, willing to negotiate when it served the interests of his members.

Crow’s sudden death in 2014 sent shockwaves throughout the labour movement and beyond. Tributes poured in from across the political spectrum, with many acknowledging his significant contributions to the fight for workers’ rights. His legacy lives on in the countless lives he touched and the victories he achieved.

Bob Crow was more than just a union leader; he was a symbol of working-class resilience and determination. His life story is a testament to the power of activism and the importance of fighting for what you believe in. Though he may no longer be with us, his legacy continues to inspire generations of workers to stand up and demand a better future for themselves and their families.

Bob Crow on why leaving the EU was so important to him

Freedom of Movement was about suppressing wages to maximise profits

Attila the Stockbroker remembers 10 years on:

Ten years ago today… final encounter (of a fair few) with BBC Radio 4.

The producer of its ‘Last Word’ obit programme asked me to write a poem in honour of the late, great Bob Crow. Here it is.

They refused to run it because ‘it wasn’t balanced’.

I told them to insert their radio station into their rectal cavity.

I don’t think we’ve missed each other!


There was a man who held his ground.

Fought every inch, and won the day.

His legacy, his members’ lot:

Good work conditions, decent pay.

By Tories and their tabloid dupes

And those who seek more than their share

Just like Millwall, his favourite team,

He wasn’t liked, and didn’t care.

But those who worked in transport knew

Their leader stood right by their side.

No management could lay them low:

They wore their union badge with pride.

He spoke for passengers as well:

Safety, not profit, always first.

Opposing fatal funding cuts –

Paddington, Potters Bar the worst.

Bob Crow. A boxer’s grandson, he:

Led with the left and packed a punch.

The bosses knew he’d take them on:

No smarmy smile, no cosy lunch.

We need more like him, that’s for sure:

Upfront and honest to the last.

He bargained hard and kept his word.

A union leader unsurpassed.

As zero hours contracts grow

And bosses offer Hobson’s choice

Let us not mourn, but organize:

Get off our knees and find our voice!

This man fought hard for workers’ rights:

A fair wage, a safe, steady job.

So join a union and stand firm.

That’s the best way to honour Bob.

(Attila the Stockbroker)

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