Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin has described Bob Crow as a true internationalist who encouraged trade unionists, civil rights advocates and politically progressive people in every field of endeavour.

Crow, the general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, died aged 52 early on Tuesday morning in an east London hospital after reportedly suffering an aneurysm and a heart attack.

Crow was a figure of controversy in the United Kingdom who never shied away from a fight in defence of his members. He also made a memorable speech at the MUA Quadrennial Conference in Sydney in 2012 where he spoke passionately about the many battles facing working people across the world.

Mr Crumlin, who is also President of the International Transport Workers' Federation said: "Bob Crow was a worker and a leader of working women and men of his union, his country and the world. His unassailable courage, moral persistence, generosity of spirit and inevitable humour inspired and encouraged trade unionists , civil rights advocates and politically progressive human beings in every field of endeavour to be more effective and try harder for a better and more equitable life for all regardless of race gender age or material circumstance.

"Bob was unrelenting in the active prosecution of this vision of a better world. His commitment started with the seafarers and rail workers of his union the RMT and flowed inexorably into the lives of all working people seeking affirmation and justice in the face of often extraordinary deprivation and persecution.

"He spoke with the honesty and directness of his actions and commitments. He was above all a family man who understood that the real wealth and value of our lives also springs from a loving nurturing of those closest to us. Our parents, partners children and extended family.

"Our deepest and most sincerest sympathies and thoughts reach out to his wife Nicky and children at this most tragic and heart wrenching point in the hope that may ease their great pain in some way.

"Vale Bob our great friend and comrade, constant source of our determination for a more just and humane world,. A man greatly loved respected and admired by all those that believe that the workplace and communities of our lives belong to the many and not just the few. A man of family and friendship. A true internationalist and constant advocate for peace and true justice for all."

Crow had been the RMT's leader since 2001, growing a reputation as a militant champion of workers, with his apparently unfashionable politics seeing the union add tens of thousands of recruits after it repeatedly won pay rises for its members.

Crow's most recent high-profile battle was over the future of London Underground, with talks continuing after strikes last month.

MUA Deputy National Secretary Mick Doleman said he had lost a friend.

"I'm proud to say I considered Bob as a mate, and I greatly admired his tenacity in representing his members and the working class in general. Bob never gave a hoot about his general popularity and was the target of many a hate campaign from the notorious UK media and those purporting to be conscience and commentators of the English upper class who have never supported workers, let alone their leaders," Mr Doleman said.

"Bob truly did reflect the adage "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and never allowed negativity to cloud his vision for his great union, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers.

"Our hearts go out to Nicky his loving wife and his family who stuck solid with Bob and of course our condolences to the executive and rank and file of the union. Bob was a character larger than life and will be sadly missed by the working class he represented with such honour."

Produced by Jamie McMechan Maritime Union of Australia - Film Unit & Mich-Elle Myers Maritime Union of Australia - Women's Liaison Officer / National EAS Coordinator.

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