General secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union Bob Crow has died aged 52, the RMT has confirmed.
Crow, one of the most recognisable figures in British union life, passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to a statement released on the RMT website.
“The union’s offices will be closed for the rest of the day and the union will make further announcements in due course,” it said.
After first being elected to the role in 2002 after the death of predecessor Jimmy Knapp, Crow had been a vocal advocate of the nationalisation of the British car industry, as well as supporting a UK exit from the European Union.
Last month he praised the “great historic significance” of the £1bn Bombardier Crossrail contract, which ensured train manufacturing would remain in Derby.
Since becoming leader, RMT membership soared from around 57,000 in 2002 to more than 80,000 in 2008, making it one of Britain’s fastest growing trade unions.
Tony Burke, assistant secretary of Unite and chair for the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, described Crow as an “outstanding” trade unionist.
“Bob was one of the most outstanding trade unionists in the UK, who stood up for his members and working people not just here but throughout the world,” he said.