by New Worker
THOUSANDS of transport workers and labour and peace movement activists filled the streets of London last Thursday in a May Day march and rally dedicated to the memory of RMT general secretary Bob Crow and Labour and peace veteran fighter Tony Benn, who died within a week of each other earlier this year.
The march assembled as usual at Clerkenwell Green. London’s Turkish and Kurdish communities were out in force as usual along with thousands of RMT members, members of the train drivers’ union Aslef and many other unions.
There were also a large group of protesters at the exploitative short-term money lender Wonga, which charges interest at over 5,000 per cent per annum, peace campaigners, save the NHS campaigners and dozens of political parties and groups.
Many marchers sported a T-shirt produced for the occasions depicting Crow with the inscription: “Bob Crow – legend – loved by the workers, feared by the bosses”.
The march set off at 1.30pm precisely, led by a giant banner held up by, among others, Bob Crow’s widow Nicky, his daughter Natasha Hoarau, MP Jeremy Corbyn and John Hendy QC.
Natasha Hoarau told the rally: “He would have been so proud of the solidarity among us today.
"It has not been an easy time for the family, but we are comforted to see so many people displaying so much passion."
Chief march steward Tony Lennon said the huge turnout, including a large bloc of Unite union members, was a tribute to the "massive contribution" made by Bob Crow, and Tony Benn, who died aged 52 and 88, in the fight for workers' rights.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady spoke of "honouring two great heroes of the labour movement" and said that if all trade unions across the movement built their unions like Bob Crow built the RMT, the unions would collectively have 10 million members instead of their present six million.
She gave TUC backing to the present RMT London Underground strikes, saying: "If striking is the only way to win, that's what we must do.”
Len McCluskey, the leader of the giant union, Unite, also gave the support of his union to the RMT struggle. Referring to the millions of workers celebrating May Day around the world he said "our class is out today" and emphasised that British workers have much more in common with workers across the globe than they do with any British boss.
John Hendy QC gave a forceful tribute to Bob Crow, describing him as: "A tireless man who led by example, every evening and every weekend speaking in favour of every conceivable campaign that might advance the cause of the working class here and around the world.”
He added: "Let's not forget the message of Bob Crow, that capitalism is a rotten, evil system that's rendered hundreds of millions of people into indignity, poverty and injustice worldwide. Socialism was the message that Bob Crow delivered at meetings up and down the country.”