Jim Larkin, In Pursuit of Fair Working Conditions

Jim Larkin, In Pursuit of Fair Working Conditions

Jim Larkin was a renowned Irish trade activist of the 20th Century. He was born into a low-income family in the slums of Liverpool, England and had little formal education. While growing, he did various menial jobs to supplement his family’s income and eventually became a foreman at the Liverpool docks. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and James Larkin – Wikipedia

He was a fervent believer that workers should be treated fairly, and his passion drove him to join the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL) in 1905. This was the beginning of his career as an activist and a representative of the Irish laborers.

Jim Larkin’s stay at NUDL did not last long as he was transferred to Dublin on account of his strike methods that did not align with the provisions of the union. While at Dublin, he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU).

His primary aim was uniting all workers, skilled and unskilled, to work towards a common goal of making working terms more favorable. His main agendas were: provision of work for all unemployed Irish people; legal eight hours’ day; pension for employees sixty years and above; nationalization of canals, railways, and other transport channels; and compulsory arbitration courts.

To advance his agendas more powerfully, Jim Larkin joined efforts with James Connolly to form the Irish Labor Party (ILP). The party participated in several strikes, the most notable of them being the 1913 Dublin Lockout where more than 100,000 workers joined and won the right to fair employment after seven months.

Further, Larkin did not use violence in his strikes; instead, he preferred to use sympathetic and modest means to approach trade issues.

Jim Larking went to the US in 1914 to raise funds to fight the British during the World War, and while there he joined the Socialist Party of America and the Industrial Workers of the World.

However, he was convicted of criminal anarchy and communism in 1920, a conviction that led to his deportation in 1924. He established the Workers Union of Ireland in the same year and fought for workers’ rights.


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