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LONDON, March 11 One of Britain's
highest-profile union leaders, Bob Crow, died suddenly on
Tuesday, just weeks after leading the latest train drivers'
strike to cause havoc on London's underground railway.
The Rail Maritime and Transport workers' union (RMT) said
Crow, 52, died in the early hours of Tuesday morning. A
spokesman declined to comment on media reports that he had
suffered a heart attack and had died in hospital.
Crow had led a series of rail strikes since becoming leader
of the RMT in 2002, the most recent of which, last month, caused
traffic chaos in the capital.
But whilst many commuters may have loathed him, the members
of the RMT for whose rights he fought for more than a decade,
"It is with the deepest regret that RMT has to confirm that
our general secretary Bob Crow sadly passed away in the early
hours of this morning," the union said in a statement.
No further details were immediately available.
An imposing, stocky man with a penchant for wearing duffel
coats and flat caps, Crow was a larger-than-life character and
one of the "awkward squad" of left-wing British union leaders
who have come to power since the turn of the century.
Despite earning an annual salary of 145,000 pounds
($241,200), he continued to live in a council house in London.
He was attacked in the British media last month when he was
photographed sunning himself on a beach in Brazil just days
before the start of the latest tube strike.
"What do you want me to do," he replied with typical
chutzpah. "Sit under a tree and read Karl Marx every day?"
His long-time ideological foe, London Mayor Boris Johnson,
was among the first to praise Crow's tireless fight for his
"I'm shocked. Bob Crow was a fighter and a man of character.
Whatever our political differences - and there were many - this
is tragic news," Johnson said in statement.
"He shared my goal to make transport in London an even
greater success. It's a sad day."
Frances O'Grady, leader of the Trades Union Congress (TUC)
umbrella group, said she was shocked.
"Bob was an outstanding trade unionist, who tirelessly
fought for his members, his industry and the wider trade union
movement," she said in a statement.
(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Stephen Addison)