Born in Britain, James Larkin, also known as Jim Larkin, was a well-known Irish labor union organizer who began working on the docks in his birthplace when he was in his youth so that he could add to his family’s income.
Feeling that he and the other workers were being treated unfairly, he eventually joined the National Union of Laborers and later became a full-time union planner and activist in 1905. Read more: James Larkin | Ireland Calling and James Larkin – Wikipedia
After he’d organized a few militant strikes while part of the NUDL, his methods began to concern the other members of the group, so he was transferred to Dublin, Ireland, where he would later start another union called the ITGWU, or the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union.
The goal he had for the ITGWU was to bring together all Irish industrial workers, both skilled and unskilled, and make them part of one organization. He also formed the Irish Labour Party and led a number of employee walkouts. One of the biggest strikes he organized was the Dublin Lockout, which happened in 1913.
During this event, more than 100,000 workers went on strike for almost 8 months. A year later, he traveled to the U.S. to raise money to fight the British, but ended up getting deported back to Dublin, and at the start of World War 1, he staged a huge anti-war demonstration in his home country. In the early part of the 1920s, he was convicted of anarchy and communism, but was pardoned for those crimes 3 years later.
Jim Larkin didn’t get much of a formal education when he was young, most likely due to the fact that he had to find jobs so he could help take care of his family. The years that he was employed at businesses that he felt didn’t have much consideration for their laborers was what motivated him to become passionate about seeking justice for himself and his co-workers.
Jim Larkin was seen as being a socialist and a communist, and was even recognized by Communist International in 1924. The married father of four sons continued organizing unions for decades until he died in the 1940s in Dublin.