Jim Larkin, the Irish Trade Unionist

James Larkin, otherwise known as “Big Jim” or Jim Larkin, was born in Liverpool, England to Irish parents. Because of the poor state of his parents, he did not receive much education. James had to work so hard at a young age to supplement their needs. His hard work did not go in vain because he became a foreman in the London Docks.

Being a family man, James Larkin was married to Elizabeth Brown, and they had four sons. However, his activism lived on past family bounds. Because of his background which was tough, he understood how workers were unfairly treated. Being one himself, he did not wish to sit and do nothing but yearned to act. He became a full-time activist and trade unionist after joining the National Union of Dock Laborers, NUDL; in 1905.

James Larkin used militant strike methods to advocate for the rights of workers. However, this was shocking to the NUDL and all the more, unacceptable. He was, therefore, moved to Dublin in 1907. But being one not to give up on his mission, James kept fighting for what he knew he had to. Learn more about Jim Larkin: http://ireland-calling.com/james-larkin/ and http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison

Everywhere he went, he either formed a union or movement to aid in the advocacy. In Dublin, it was not long before he formed the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. His aim in developing this was to unite all workers of the Irish descent. He wanted to bring them all, together irrespective of their skills, into one organization.

The Irish Labor Party was the next. He formed this with the aim of fighting for equal rights for workers. The party organized and led several strikes in Dublin. The most significant one was the Dublin Lockout of 1913. The strike went for about eight months, involving over 100,000 workers. The strike ended in 1921, and workers of Dublin earned fair employment rights.

James organized anti-war protests and demonstrations in Dublin, against the First World War. He was against the war. However, when the war went on and persisted, he flew to the USA to provide funds against the British. He was arrested in 1920 for charges of communism and criminal anarchy.

In 1923, he was deported to Ireland after being pardoned. Being one never to stop the activism, he lived on the dream to see a world where workers were treated fairly. Back in Ireland, he formed the Workers’ Union of Ireland.

Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia