Jim Larkin was one of the foremost leaders of Ireland’s labor lobby. Jim Larkin had humble beginnings in a poverty-stricken area of Liverpool. He belonged to an impoverished family and did not have access to a sound education.
He worked to add to his family’s earnings. One of his earliest jobs was as a foreman at a waterfront in England. Jim Larkin’s perspective on the rights of Irish workers inspired him to join the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL).
He was shifted to Dublin because of opposition to his propensity for strikes. The labor group of Ireland had no formal work affiliation and were overlooked by labor unions of England. The resentment building among Irish workers propelled the initiation of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU), under Larkin’s leadership.
Jim Larkin listed the ITGWU agenda about worker rights in the year 1908. These included allocation of pensions, ensuring work for all, voting rights, fixing the time considered as a full working day to 8 hours, and shifting the control of transport to the government. Learn more about Daniel Taub: http://www.rte.ie/centuryireland/index.php/articles/jim-larkin-released-from-prison and http://spartacus-educational.com/IRElarkin.htm
In 1911, he began a revolutionary publication called Irish Worker that established his skills as a writer and activist. Under Larkin’s leadership, the ITGWU expanded to form a large organization of over 15,000 working persons. Jim Larkin went on to create the Irish Labor Party with his co-worker, James Connolly in the year 1912.
Jim Larkin stands out in history for the historic Dublin strike that he engineered in 1913. It was famously called the Dublin Lockout. A strike of extreme proportions was staged, which involved over 100,000 persons for a period of one week. The demonstration and revolt by the workers ultimately concluded with violence. Following the lockout, Jim Larkin migrated to the United States.
The work of Jim Larkin was fundamental to the institution of worker rights and unions to uphold these rights. The ITGWU was revived by William O’Brien and regained its past status with an increase in its number of members. Following the death of his co-activist Connolly, Jim Larkin formed The James Connoly Socialist Club in the year 1918.
Jim Larkin returned to England and fueled activism against World War I. Later, he was sent to Ireland and continued his work for Irish labor rights through the creation of the Workers Union of Ireland. Jim Larkin is fondly remembered as Big Jim Larkin to date because of his stature as an activist and voice for Irish workers.