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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Cumbrian rail boss in tribute to Bob Crow

A lifelong friend and colleague of the national union boss Bob Crow has paid him a warm tribute following his sudden death.

Bob Crow photo
Bob Crow

Mr Crow, 52, who suffered a massive heart attack, was the charismatic and outspoken general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT).

The union’s Carlisle-based regional official Craig Johnston knew him for 30 years.

“I’m absolutely devastated,” said Mr Johnston, who wept when he heard the news.

“Bob was always a trusted friend: if you were ever in any kind of difficulty in the movement, in your employment, or in anything else he was always 100 per cent behind you.

“He’d always back you to the hilt. Both my partner Judith and I are absolutely shattered by this news.

“Our membership in the RMT increased dramatically under his leadership because he was always prepared to stand up and fight.

“He was passionate about everything he did. He had a heart of gold.

“Just recently, we were in a bitter dispute with Tyne & Wear Metro and union money was paid into a hardship fund because Bob was not prepared to see the cleaners left on the minimum wage.

“We got them a 22 per cent rise over four years. That’s the sort of bloke he was.”

A man without airs and graces, and proudly working class, Mr Crow made himself readily accessible to his members – to the point that union reps in Carlisle had his mobile phone number.

Mr Johnston said: “When Bob came to a train crew conference he bumped into four Carlisle rail workers on the train, went over straight away, introduced himself, and played cards and drank lager with them. That’s just the kind of bloke he was.

“The union took a massive hit today. He was very much on the left of British politics: it was a politics which believes in more equality; in community; and it was a politics which was straight-talking.

“He wasn’t just our general secretary. He was loved by the members of this union.”

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