Jim Larkin Becomes An Irish Hero

No matter what one thinks about the socialist beliefs and ideals of Irish trade unionist and political leader, Jim Larkin, the impact of the Liverpool, England-born man is difficult to ignore. Larkin is perhaps most famous around the world as the social commentator who stated, “a fair day’s work, for a fair day’s pay.”

Despite being born in Liverpool, Larkin is most associated with Dublin, Ireland where his short impact as the founder and leader of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union changed the way the people of the nation lived their lives.

The life of Jim Larkin has often been overshadowed by his friend and political partner, James Connolly who would be immortalized as one of the leaders who died as a result of his role in the 1917 Easter Rising against the English. Read more: James Larkin | Ireland Calling and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia

Commentators on his life have often explained Jim Larkin could be distrustful of those he saw as a threat to his own career and would go out of his way not to promote those he felt would eventually usurp his power.

Larkin became famous in Ireland for setting out a political manifesto in 1912 upon his establishment of the Irish Labour Party which is now similar to the working rights of the modern worker. Under the manifesto written by Larkin, Irish workers would be afforded the right to a standardized eight hour work day, adult suffrage, arbitration courts, and a pension when workers turned 60.

The career of Jim Larkin looked set for prolonged political success when the 1913 Dublin Lockout turned the media of the time and conservative business-owners against him.

Larkin had never used violence against strikebreakers as he understood the demolition of industry in Dublin would destroy the jobs of those he was fighting for when he led a 100,000 worker strike in the heart of Ireland.

Soon after the lockout ended, Larkin moved to the U.S. but misread the Irish situation and found himself imprisoned after joining the Socialist Workers Party.

The trade union leader would eventually return to Ireland and win election to office with the Labour Party before his death and eventual public rehabilitation for his work in modernizing Ireland’s labor laws.

Jim Larkin And His Laboring Life

Jim Larkin is well known for his role in organizing unions in Ireland. He grew up in the poor slums of Liverpool; and this no doubt had an affect on his life. He did not get to continue his education for long because he was forced to work to help his family with money. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia

He started working on the docks and quickly worked his way up the ranks. Started a union in his country would turn out to be a driving force in securing better work conditions. Although the union fell apart he still continued organizing and fighting for better conditions during his life.

Larkin became committed to helping workers receive better treatment at their jobs. He joined a union of dock laborers and this choice led him to become an organizer himself.

He left his home town for Dublin a few years later. It was here that he formed his own union. He lead several strikes for better working conditions and pay.

He launched his own paper called the Irish Working and it was successful. Not long after the paper launch he grew his union by thousands of members. With so many members the union had to be recognized and listened to by others.

Jim Larkin was a driven man and that drive took him to the United States later in his career. It seems he had another agenda that he wanted to work on besides running a paper and his union. Larkin had decided he wanted to travel and take his message across the waters.

Why James Larkin stands outs as a Labor Organizer

James Larkin was a renowned labor activist who advocated for worker’s rights in the early 20th century. He had unparalleled vivacity, courage, and ideas. The activist was born to a low-income family that lived in the Liverpool’s informal settlements.

The financial state of his parents made him miss the opportunity of getting a quality education. Larkin got a casual job at the dock so that he could earn some extra money for his family. In his early twenties, he was hired him as foreman. James felt like he was being oppressed while working at the dock was inspired to become a labor activist.

He was a committee socialist who strived to end capitalism and also ensure that the rights of the less privileged people were not violated. The activist was recognized in 1905 for his participation in a dock strike, and the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL) appointed him to be one of its labor organizers.

Larkin was sent to Belfast in 1907 and led the first unskilled labors’ strike. He started a strong branch of the NUDL, and it was significantly opposed by employers.

The NUDL transferred Larkin to Dublin in 1908 where he was in charge of rallying port employees. He did not like the way the union treated him in Belfast, and this led to his exit from British trade unionism. James later started the famous Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), which became the country’s most influential union in less than three years.

Most workers respected him because of his outstanding work. The activist inspired many people and dedicated himself to ensuring that all laborers had the best working conditions.

He also struggled to make sure that the workers got the respect that they deserved. Larkin supported ideas that advocated for equity and social justice. In 1911, James created the Irish Worker and People’s Advocate, a weekly newspaper that sold over 20000 copies. It was among the city’s most powerful propaganda sheets at that time. The labor organizer purchased the Liberty Hall in 1912 to become the headquarters of ITGWU. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia

The ITGWU was responsible for leading all unskilled labor activities in the capital. This excluded the building trade, Dublin United Tramway Company (DUTC), Guinness’ Brewery, and the Corporation. The infamous Dublin Lockout that occurred in 1913 was motivated by a disagreement between the DUTC and James Larkin.

Over 100,000 workers participated in the industrial action that paralyzed the dock for months. The long strike devastated his union, and he flew to the United States in 1914 to seek funds to strengthen it. James led a group of protesters to stop the U.S from taking part in World War I. After a while, he openly started showing support for the Soviet Union and also organized illegal demonstrations.

James Larkin was sent to jail in 1919 and was deported in 1923 after being pardoned. His career in the labor movement sector failed to blossom after returning to Ireland since he did not have a lot of support. The activist died in 1947.

The Prolific Jim Larkin and the Plight of Workers

Jim Larkin was born on January in the year 1876 in Liverpool. He is a renowned Irish labor organizer as well as an activist. He is the founder of the Transport and General Workers Union; it is worth noting that this is the biggest union in the region.

Jim Larkin was brought up in the slums, and thus, he acquired little formal education. As a youth, he was engaged in various jobs before becoming a foreman at the Liverpool docks.

Jim was a firm socialist who strongly believed that all the workers ought to be treated. He joined National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). In the year 1905, he became a trade union organizer on a full-time basis.

He was later transferred to Dublin, and it is there that Jim Larkin established the Irish Transport and General Workers union. The union’s main objective was to incorporate the skilled, unskilled and the industrial workers in one united body.

Larkin subsequently established the Irish Labor Party. This union was responsible for a strike that lasted for almost eight months. As a result of this strike, the workers won the right to fair employment in the whole nation. More than 100,000 people took part in this strike; this explains the intensity of the situation. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia

Jim Larkin engaged sympathetic strikes as well as boycotting goods. At no any given time did he resort to violence. The press in Ireland did no support Larkin, but this did not deter him as he had a very large following.

Jim Larkin will be remembered for the role that he played during the commencement of the First World War. He led the anti-war demonstrations all over the city of Dublin. He even went to the United States with the aim of raising funds to be in a position to fight Britain. In the year 1920, this dedicated man was convicted of criminal anarchy, but three years later, he was pardoned.

Jim was deported to Ireland. Not all this deterred Jim Larkin, he continued pursuing his dream, and he set up the Workers Union of Ireland. This saw Ireland gain recognition from Communist International in the year 1924.

Jim Larkin was married to Elizabeth Brown and they had four sons together. Jim Larkin remained active in his entire life until when he passed on in the year 1947. He left a great legacy that is to be emulated by many.