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March 11, 2014

British trade union general secretary Bob Crow dies at 52

Filed under: Archived,Bob Crow,Europe,Labor,Obituaries,United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

British trade union general secretary Bob Crow dies at 52

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

United Kingdom
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Bob Crow in 2012.
Image: Jarle Vines.

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the United Kingdom’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers — better known as the RMT — died today aged 52 from a suspected heart attack. Crow is widely known for leading numerous strikes by workers that led to disruption of public transport services in the United Kingdom.

After leaving school at 16, Crow started working on the London Underground fixing railway lines and felling trees. He joined a union shortly afterwards. In 1991, Crow was elected assistant general secretary of the RMT. Following the death of Jimmy Knapp in 2002, he was made general secretary. Under his leadership, the union’s membership numbers increased by more than a quarter, to 80,000 workers.

The current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said in a statement: “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. Bob fought tirelessly for his beliefs and for his members.”

The current Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband said in a statement: “Bob Crow was a major figure in the labour movement and was loved and deeply respected by his members. I didn’t always agree with him politically but I always respected his tireless commitment to fighting for the men and women in his union. He did what he was elected to do, was not afraid of controversy and was always out supporting his members across the country. He was a passionate defender of and campaigner for safe, affordable public transport and was a lifelong anti-fascist activist.”

Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone praised Crow, in a remark to Sky News: “He fought really hard for his members. The only working-class people who still have well-paid jobs in London are his members.”



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July 30, 2009

Vestas protesters sacked with immediate effect

Vestas protesters sacked with immediate effect

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Vestas worker stays in touch with the outside world via his mobile telephone.

Eleven of the 25 workers at the Vestas factory in Newport, Isle of Wight, England who have been carrying out a sit-in since Monday July 20 have been sacked with immediate effect.

According to one of the protesters known as “Mike”, the occupiers were given their dismissal notices concealed under slices of their evening meal of pizza. The company said that the protesters have had ample opportunity to air their point of view, and had no choice but to sack eleven of the twenty five workers that they had positively identified; and that given that the fact that the action constituted a “fundamental breach” of trust, that the eleven would not be entitled to redundancy packages. A press release from the company said that Vestas “saw no other choice than to dismiss the 11 employees, who the company has positively identified as the employees currently participating in the occupation of the factory.”

The protesters remained upbeat, vowing to continue their occupation and have called upon the UK government to save the 625 jobs and to nationalise the Danish owned factory. Occupier Ian Terry told the BBC that if the occupiers are forced out, they plan to leave the building “peacefully”.

Vestas management were dealt a setback today in ending the occupation as Newport County Court ruled that the papers accusing the occupiers of aggravate trespass and requiring they surrender the office they occupy by July 29 were improperly served. The case has been adjourned until Tuesday August 4. In court, Judge Graham White said he was “distinctly uncomfortable” with what he perceived as Vestas’ effort to “get around the rules” in retaking the factory from the occupiers.

Legal representation for the Vestas workers had been offered by Bob Crow, secretary of the RMT trade union. Crow has pledged the “full solidarity” of the RMT and seven other unions with the workers occupying the plant.

Vestas management has also been providing the occupiers with hot meals in an apparent response to Crow’s announcement, made on July 24, that the RMT was planning on airlifting food into the factory by helicopter. Crow is meeting today with Ed Miliband, the Environment Minister.

Earlier in the week, Miliband pledged £6 million in funding to an expansion of Vestas’ Isle of Wight research and development centre, which currently employs 110 workers and could, said the Minister, be expanded to employ 40 more.

Vestas workers spend time outside on a factory balcony

Rallies continued throughout the week in support of the Vestas occupiers. Since the occupation began, the Vestas workers have received declarations of support and solidarity from a wide swathe of the British left, including but not limited to: political parties Green Party, Respect, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party, the Alliance for Workers Liberty, and the Communist Party of Britain; the TUCG group, which brings together the BFAWU, FBU, NAPO, NUJ, PCS, POA, RMT, and URTU; and environmental groups Greenpeace, the Campaign against Climate Change, Climate Camp, and Workers’ Climate Action, who claims credit for initiating the campaign to occupy the factory. Attendees of the Big Green Gathering, a large annual environmentalist rally which was due to take place starting today but was suddenly canceled on Sunday, are being encouraged to go to the Isle of Wight and take part in support rallies for Vestas instead.

Speaking to Wikinews about the “red-green” coalition supporting the occupation, a spokesman for the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty said: “We think this struggle is important on at least three grounds — it is central to the struggle for jobs, it is central to the struggle for the environment, and it is central to the struggle for rebuilding the labour movement.”

Photographs shared with Wikinews by the occupiers show the occupiers, mostly young men, talking, carrying out everyday tasks, and keeping in touch with the outside world via mobile phones. The use of mobile telephones in the Vestas occupation has given the press remarkable access to the occupiers and provided an effective platform for relaying their demands and feelings to the media. In contrast, Vestas’s designated media contact for the United Kingdom is on vacation. Attempts to reach Vestas Newport factory manager Patrick Weir, whom a Vestas representative at the company’s Danish headquarters stated was handling press inquiries regarding the occupation, received no reply.

Vestas plans to close the factory on July 31, citing the difficulties of obtaining planning permission for wind farms in the United Kingdom. All blades manufactured at Vestas’ Newport plant are sent to the United States. 1900 employees of the company in Northern Europe face job losses, 625 of them in Vestas’s plants in the south of England.



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February 5, 2009

UK rail firm cuts 180 jobs

UK rail firm cuts 180 jobs – Wikinews, the free news source

UK rail firm cuts 180 jobs

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

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British rail company South West Trains (SWT) is to cut 180 jobs.

The franchisee for lines out of London’s Waterloo station has already announced 480 job cuts. The redundancies affect front line staff in ticket offices and at stations and further managers and administrators.

Bus firm Stagecoach Group, LSE: SGC which runs South West Trains and East Midlands Trains, says that cuts are required because predicted passenger growth will now not happen. SWT’s subsidy from the government is falling from £61 million in 2008 to £23 million this year. The subsidy becomes a premium payment next year, with over £36 million to be paid by SWT in 2010.

South West Trains Express Sprinter 158789 at Bristol Temple Meads railway station
Image: Thryduulf.

Train crew and maintenance staff will not face redundancy and the number of services, which are generally mandated by the Department for Transport, will not be reduced. The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union condemned the job cuts. Bob Crow, the union’s general secretary, said “SWT’s attacks on its staff and passengers are eating into the very fabric of the railway they are supposed to be running, and they must be stopped”. He said that the RMT wanted to ensure there were no compulsory redundancies but that “the company seems to be heading towards a ballot for strike action”. Crow also restated the union’s longstanding demand for the railways to be renationalised, saying “South West Trains has shown itself to be incapable of running a railway for the benefit of its passengers and the economy, and it is time for the franchise [to come] back into the public sector”.

SWT’s statement on the cuts said “The company will continue to review its operation and take any further steps required to ensure it has a secure business for the long-term. Our priority will remain maintaining services to our customers, protecting jobs for the majority of our people and providing a strong foundation for growth when the economy improves.”



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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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