James Larkin was born in Liverpool, England. He started working at the young age of seven to help his family income. James also known as Jim, is an Irish trade union leader and socialist activist. He went on his very first strike in 1905.
In 1905 Larkin went on strike at the docks where he was a foremen. He became a temporary organizer by his dedicated performance at this strike. By 1906 he gained a permanent position on the National Union of Dock Laborers. Between the years 1907 and 1914 Larkin organized several strikes. Some were successful and others…well were not.
In 1907 Larkin moved to Belfast, the capital and largest city of Northern Ireland, and founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, The Irish Labour Party, and than the Workers Union of Ireland. In Belfast the city’s dock workers were not getting the appropriate wage that they deserved. The strike lasted one month and ended in success.
In 1908, Larkin organized workers in Dublin, Cork, and Waterford. There, however was a dispute in Dublin that resulted in Larkins imprisonment for three months. He was prosecuted for giving union funds to Cork workers that were involved in an unofficial strike dispute. He was dropped from the National Union of Dock Laborers (NUDL).
After Larkin’s expulsion from the NUDL, he founded the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) in 1908. Today it’s known as Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU), which today it’s Ireland’s largest trade union. It has members working in construction, health, education, transport, and manufacturing trades.
The Irish Worker and People’s Advocate is the newspaper Larkin established in 1911. Many public figures and writers were featured in the paper. Unfortunately the papers last edition was printed in March of 1932. Read more: Jim Larkin – Biography and The Definite Biography of Big Jim Larkin
One of the main events most people might know Larkin was involved in was the Dublin Lockout. It was HUGE in Ireland. One of the two major companies that was involved is the world famous brewery Guinness. This is were Larkins slogan “A fair days work for a fair days pay” came into account. The lockout affected tens of thousands of Dublin’s workers and employees for seven long months. The lockout finally ended in 1914.
Larkin moved to the United States shortly after the lockout ended. He intended to “recharge” and help raise money for the union. He returned to Ireland in 1923 and immediately started touring at the country’s meetings for the trade members.
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