James Larkin – The Fighter for Workers’ Right

James Larkin was born in the slums of Liverpool in England on January 21, 1876, where he was raised in a harsh environment and for this reason; Jim did not complete his education in a right way. Due to lack of enough knowledge, Larkin did various manual jobs to cater for the needs of his family. Jim worked in Liverpool docks where he rose to the ranks of supervisor.

Larkin enrolled to the National Union of Dock Laborers where he became a very active member. At the age of 29, Jim Larkin became a trade union organizer because he always believed that all workers have their rights to fair and equal treatment.

After two years, in 1907, Larkin moved to Dublin Ireland, and that was where he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU). The reason for his transfer is that as a trade union organizer, his aggressiveness did not go well with the NUDL. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and The Definite Biography of Big Jim Larkin – Irish Examiner

The ITGWU became the biggest union in Ireland because its primary focus was to bring all other Irish workers’ unions together. It was so strong that it organized many strikes successfully. One of the most successful strikes led by ITGWU was the 1913 lockout. During the strike, about 100,000 workers remained out of work for almost eight months.

Even though ITGWU staged the Dublin lockout and won the workers’ right to fair treatment successfully, it never survived and in 1914, the union dissolved. This was at the onset of the First World War, and Jim had led a series of anti-war demonstrations where he advised Irish people not to participate in the war.

James Larkin did not stop there, and he traveled to the USA in the same year to look for funding which would enable him to confront the British. While in America, he became a member of both the Industrial Workers of the World and Social Party of America.

James did not live in America for long and went back to Ireland in 1923. The following year, he founded Workers’ Union of Ireland. Jim Larkin continued to fight for workers’ rights, and he joined Labor Party in 1945 two years before his death which occurred in 1947.

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