James Larkin was a highly influential trade union leader who strived to protect the rights of Irish workers. He was known for being the proprietor and head of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU). The union was founded in 1907 and Larkin led it until 1914 when he located to the United States. The trade unionist was an enthusiast Marxist and was always devoted to ensuring that there was fairness to all workers in Ireland.
Larkin was born to low-income Irish immigrants who lived in the slums of Liverpool, England. The state of his family made him attend school in the morning and find a part time job that he did in the afternoon to get some extra income. At the age of 14, Jim’s father passed on, and he was hired by his former employers. He served the firm for two years and then moved to be a foreman at the Liverpool dock.
Jim Larkin was a socialist who felt like the employees of the dock did not have good working conditions. He joined the strike committee of the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL) in 1905, and his performance was outstanding. The union later appointed him to be a temporary organizer.
As an NUDL organizer, Jim utilized militant tactics in staging several industrial actions. The union transferred him to work in Dublin in 1907. In the same year, his passion motivated him to create the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, which strived to bring together all the skilled and unskilled individuals who were employed by Irish industries.
Larkin later became the founder of the Irish Labor Party and used the union in organizing a couple of strikes. In 1913, he led his largest industrial action that stopped more than 100,000 dock workers from reporting to work for approximately eight months. The strike forced the employers to give them improved working conditions.
At the beginning of World War I, Jim organized massive anti-war demonstrations across Dublin. He later left Ireland for the United States to help in raising funds to support the operations of the Irish unions. While in the U.S, Larkin became a member of the Socialist Party of America and was later expelled for being a passionate Soviet Union supporter.
He was also one of the Industrial Workers of the World Union’s members. James participated in several activist undertakings and was jailed by the government for criminal anarchy and communism. He stayed in prison as from 1920 to 1923 before being pardoned and deported. Read more: Jim Larkin | Wikipedia and Jim Larkin – Biography
The trade unionist later established the Workers Union of Ireland. His dedication to protecting the right of immigrants made him be honored by the Communist International in 1924.
In 1941, James Larkin led WUI in fighting legislation that had been approved to restructure trade unions. The passing of the bill affected British unions that had offices in Ireland and all the small general unions. Jim later served as the deputy of the Labor Party. He died in 1947 and was buried at the Glasnevin Cemetery.