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Tower Hamlets politicians pay tribute to Shadwell-born RMT union leader Bob Crow

PUBLISHED: 10:20 12 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:14 12 March 2014

Union leader Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union has died.

Union leader Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union has died.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Politicians from across the borough have been paying tribute to Bob Crow following the union leader's death yesterday morning.

Jim Fitzpatrick MPJim Fitzpatrick MP

The Rail Maritime and Transport RMT union announced the news about its General Secretary ‘with the deepest regret’, saying the 52-year-old ‘passed away in the early hours of this morning’.

Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, and former Fire Brigade Union member worked with Crow when he was Under Secretary of State for Transport under Gordon Brown.

“It’s a big shock and one can only feel for his family and friends,” he said.

“His achievements within the trade union movement are signified by his ability to perform and shine, despite the criticising views of many across the spectrum.

John Biggs, Labour Party candidate for City and East London Assembly MemberJohn Biggs, Labour Party candidate for City and East London Assembly Member

“He’ll certainly be missed by those who loved him.”

John Biggs, Labour mayoral candidate for the borough, worked with Crow during his years as transport chair for the London Assembly.

He said: “He was fiercely intelligent behind the blokeish front and I pay tribute to his leadership as a trade unionist.

“The public may have sometimes been unhappy with industrial action but the people he was elected to serve and represent were always served brilliantly by him.

“Standing up for working people, many of whom are not particularly well-paid, was what he was there to do and he did it well.”

Born in Shadwell, he later moved to Hainault with his parents George and Lillian and elder brother Richard before leaving school at 16 to work on the railways.

He rose through the ranks of union politics, becoming a local representative of the National Union of Railwaymen in 1983 and national officer for track workers two years later.

Since becoming leader of the RMT in 2002, it became one of the nation’s fastest growing trade unions.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

He said: “Tough in his principles, he kept the support of his members despite media assaults. I mourn along with them. His legacy will be a hard one to follow.”

“My thoughts are with his family, friends and union colleagues he left behind.”

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) mayoral candidate for Tower Hamlets Hugo Pierre praised Crow’s fierce spirit in combatting inequalities.

He said: “Bob Crow stood out because he stood up for working class people – the same reason why the right wing press vilified him.

“He embodied the best fighting spirits of people in this borough. There’s enormous inequality in Tower Hamlets, with Canary Wharf looking over people living in overcrowded and impoverished conditions.

“We’d do well to follow in Bob’s footsteps by continuing the battle against such inequality.”

Last month, Crow joined his members on the picket line during the Tube strike.

Former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow George Galloway described him in The Guardian as a “working class hero”.

He wrote: “In Crow we have lost one of a kind: a mighty oak has fallen.”

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