On behalf of the Camden branch of UNISON, I am writing to extend the branch’s condolences to RMT activists and members at the passing of Bob Crow. The fact that Bob and indeed the RMT itself faced a seemingly endless stream of vitriol from sections of the media was a sort of tribute. Many of our own branch’s members expressed a wish in our own union for the sort of determined, principled leadership Bob displayed as RMT general secretary.
He was undoubtedly the most effective national union leader of his generation, who stood in solidarity with low-paid migrant workers as well as the supposed ‘labour aristocrats’ of London Underground and the rail network. In addition, Bob believed that the labour movement must be a truly international force for peace and social justice, travelling to San Francisco to support dockworkers who staged a one-day strike against the war in Iraq on May Day in 2008. To the embarrassment of some in UNISON, Bob and the RMT delegation to the Trades Union Congress led an anti-war protest when Tony Blair addressed the TUC. He was also an implacable opponent of racism and fascism. Personally, whatever our political disagreements, I had considerable fondness and respect for Bob, whom I knew off and on for more than 15 years. There’s no doubt he leaves a substantial and inspiring legacy. Under his leadership over the past 12 years the RMT proved that a union that fights can grow and win.
Today, we mourn Bob’s passing, but tomorrow we should and must organise for fights to come as the best memorial to him.
George Binette, Camden UNISON Branch Secretary.