BOB CROW narrowly won re-election as RMT assistant general secretary last week. The RMT is Britain's biggest rail union. Crow polled 7,137 votes, against 6,795 for Watford based signal technician Mick Cash. Cash is a Labour councillor and was backed by the right wing in the union.
The result has shocked many rail workers. When Bob Crow was elected as the union's assistant general secretary five years ago, many rail workers hoped that the union would lead a fight against rail privatisation. But union activists' hopes have been dashed.
Andy Phillips, a signal worker from London, said, 'We campaigned hard to get Crow re-elected. But there was just no enthusiasm from the members. After the Paddington crash rail workers wanted to see the union call a national strike. It was the best opportunity we ever had to halt rail privatisation, but the leaders of the RMT did not call any action.'
That Crow did win the election means the majority of rail workers still want a union leadership that fights. But the key to rebuilding the union lies with the rank and file, not at the top of the union.