Leaders

Jim Larkin’s Lifelong Fight for Workers

In Liverpool, England on January 28, 1874, James Larkin was born. He grew up in the slums without much of an education, and he had to take on many different jobs during his childhood to support the family income. Eventually, Larkin landed a job as foreman for the docks at Liverpool. Larkin held socialist views and believed that workers were treated with extreme unfairness. In 1903, Larkin married Elizabeth Brown; the couple would eventually have four children. As a result, he joined that National Union of Dock Labourers and, in 1905, became a full-time union organizer. Larkin used militant strikes in his organization methods, which worried the National Union of Dock Labourers. The National Union of Dock Labourers transferred Larkin to Dublin in 1907, and Larkin founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union.

 

With the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, Larkin hoped to combine all of Ireland’s industrial workers into one union, regardless of skill level. As time progressed, Larkin formed the Irish Labour Party while also leading a series of strikes. The 1913 Dublin Lockout was the most significant strike Larkin led because it won the right to fair employment. Over 100,000 labourers were involved in the Dublin Lockout, and the strike laster for almost eight months. Larkin was against World War I, and he staged many anti-war rallies in Dublin.

 

In the midst of the war (1916), Larkin traveled to the United States to raise money to fight the British. He was charged and convicted of communism and anarchy in 1920 but was pardoned and deported to Ireland in 1923. Once back in Ireland, Larkin created the Worker’s Union of Ireland and received recognition in 1924 from the Communism International. He joined the Irish Labour Party in 1945 and continued his work towards making workers’ lives better. James Larkin died on January 30, 1947.