Jim Larkin

November 14, 2017
By Rel

Jim Larkin is a renowned historical figure and was one of the most influential Irish trade unionists to have ever existed. Jim despite having little to no formal education was able to climb the ladders in the labor movements and form one of the largest Irish trade unions ITGWU that exist till today. Jim was born and raised in the shanties of Liverpool England.

His parents were poor, and as a result, Jim was forced to do some odd manual jobs to fend for himself and also supplement the family income something that was very common in Liverpool during those days.

Larkin eventually got a job at the Liverpool dock and with no time because of his hard work was promoted to the position of foreman. Larkin being a committed socialist was not happy with the way employers treated the employees and as a result became a member, acting organising secrtary and finally the organising secretary of National Union of Dock laborers NUDL in 1905.

Larkin employed the use of militant strike method in all his strikes something that the NUDL union didn’t like, and as a result, Larkin was moved to Dublin in 1907. It is in Dublin that Larkin established a trade union by the name Irish Transport and General Workers Union ITGWU.

The main objective of forming the trade union was to ensure all the Irish industrial workers both skilled and unskilled come to one umbrella body that would protect and advance their working grievances.

In December of 1908, the ITGWU came up with a political program that advocated for pension for all retired workers who have reached the age of 60 among other things. The program also demanded compulsory arbitration Courts, nationalization of canals and railways and all means of transport and adult suffrage. Read more: James Larkin | Biography and Jim Larkin | Wikipedia

In 1912 Larkin together with another trade unionist James Connolly formed another party called the Irish Labor Party. The Party led a series of major strikes including the famous Dublin Lockout of 1913.

The strike saw a huge participation of about 100,000 workers and lasted for seven months. The Irish Labor Party eventually won and the strike was called off. Larkin strikes methods were mostly sympathetic and non-violent. He at times used the method of boycotting goods and would be careful not to harm the firms that his members worked for.

During the 1st Global War Jim was at the forefront in leading anti-war demonstration in Dublin telling the Irish people not to participate in the war. Larkin would later in 1914 visit the United States with a mission of raising funds to help Irish people fight the British. While in America, Larkin became a member of the Socialist Party.

Larkin would later become an enthusiast of the soviet union something that led to his expulsion from the Socialist Party. On 17th March 1916 during the Easter Rising, Larkin longtime friend and partner James Connolly died, and as a sign of honoring his memories, jim established James Connolly Socialist Club.

In 1920 Larkin found guilty of anarchy and encouraging communism and was sentenced to prison. He was later released after serving for three years and was deported back to Ireland.