James Larkin was born on 21st January 1876 in Liverpool, England. He grew up in the slums of Liverpool and had very little, if not none, of the formal education. Larkin worked in the labor camps to help his family earn its daily bread.
He later emerged as the most influential activist of his times. James, known by many as Jim, started the then dominant Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU.)
It grew like bushfire to be the biggest union in the region. Started with Larkin becoming a foreman at the at the Liverpool docks He believed that his fellow workers were not getting fair treatment.
Jim, therefore, teamed up with the National Union of Dock Labourers (NUDL). He started organizing full-time trade unions in 1905.
Jim got married to Elizabeth Brown. They sired four sons together.
His military approach to strikes alarmed the NUDL, and they transferred him to Dublin in 1907. It is while in Dublin that he founded the ITGWU. Jim’s main objective was the combination and pulling together of all Irish Industrial workers. Read more: James Larkin | Biography
He targeted both with skills and those without skills. They had to be united as one. Once he hit that target, Larkin formed the Irish Labor Party which led to numerous strikes of the workers.
One of the most significant strikes was the Dublin Lockout of 1913. He directed over 100,000 employees to a strike which persisted for almost eight months. They eventually won their right to fair employment.
After the Dublin Lockout, his ITGWU disintegrated. Mr. Larkin traveled to the U.S. in 1914. In the U.S., Larkin became a member of the Socialist Party of America.
He also joined the Industrial Workers of the World, (IWW.) After the death of his friend, James Connolly in 1918, Larkin founded the James Connolly Socialist Club right in the city of New York.
When the First World War broke out, James Larkin managed massive demonstrations against the war in Dublin. Mr. Larkin made a trip to the U.S. to solicit funds to aid in the fight against the British.
They charged him with communism and anarchy crimes in 1920. He was later released after three years and deported to Ireland. He continued to organize Workers’ Union of Ireland.
Through his activities, he was recognized by the Communist International in 1924 as the most exceptional Irish Labor Leader.
He died on 30th January 1947 in Dublin, Ireland. Big Jim as he was called lived to his slogan of “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s Pay.”